Leidinys ZONTA 1994-2016





Dedicated to the 63rd ZONTA International

Convention in Nice

Idea and resourses of this book

ZI D 13 02 area board 2014–2016

Partially sponsored by

Vilgelmina Podlipskienė, JSC “LITBANA” general director, member of Vilnius ZC

Editorial board

Ina Dagytė Mituzienė (general editor)


Viduta Bačkierienė, Ona Berškienė, Aldona Janulevičienė, Zofija Rauličkienė, Ramunė Trakymienė

Design Gražina Komarovska

Translation Olga Medvedeva

Photographs from personal archives

© Vilnius ZC, Ina Dagytė Mituzienė, Gražina Komarovska, 2016








Every two years ZI members get together for ZI conventions: to share achievements and discuss problems, to work together on ZONTA’s future scenarios. ZI Convention is a perfect opportunity to make your voice heard all over the world. The 63rd ZONTA International Convention, to be held on 2–6 July at the Nice – Acropolis Congress and Exhibition Center, France, will bring together a wide circle of participants: ZI president and her team, international directors, district governors and board members, area directors, club presidents and other zontians. All 70 ZI districts from Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa will be represented in Nice. This amounts to 2000 ZONTA clubs upholding the principles of democracy, transparency, sustainability.



The preparation for the convention is a perfect time for every ZI district, area and club to review their activities and highlight results. Lithuania is no exception. In 1994 Lithuania became part of Scandinavian D13, which in 2015 in Bilund (Denmark) marked its 80th anniversary in ZONTA. The Lithuanian zontians are happy to belong to the extremely experienced and advanced ZI district (see more in “80 years. ZONTA International District 13 1935–2015” by D13 governor 2014–2016 Eva Nielsen, 2015) alongside Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

Lithuanians will always remember that Iceland was the first country to recognise the restortion of Lithuania’s independence in the 1990s; the Danish zontians initiated the establishment of ZI club in Vilnius in 1994, they have rendered their support and assistance ever since. Today all three ZI clubs in Lithuania – Vilnius ZC (1994), Alytus ZC (1996), Marijampole ZC (1998) – learn from the Danish experience in promoting democracy and equal gender rights, follow Iceland’s constructive approach to eradicating the “small nation” inferiority comlex and building up national esteem, they borrow Norway’s best examples of promoting civil society and community values. Our cooperation is in the mainstream of ZI and D13 policies: prevention of violence, promoting women’s rights, enhancing professional impact and others. One of the current initiatives – ZI leadership development programme – has special relevance to Lithuania.





Why do the Lithuanian zontians find ZI leadership programme so important? Not only because the programme unites ZONTA’s present and future through the permanent process of leaders’ formation. The programme shows how to do away with the half-century long soviet traditions of creating false formal leader stereotypes, when leaders were appointed and a big part of their activities was just imitation. We cannot stay idle and wait till a new generation of leaders develops by itself, little by little. The ZI leadership development programme gives us the tools to accelerate the formation of leaders. One shouldn’t forget the importance of cooperation with other global and national women’s public organisations; being a dynamic vehicle of the global progress, pubic organisations contribute to integration processes, they support voluntary involvement in making decisions on national and international levels.



Some specific features of the programme stem from the innate qualities of ZI, namely its high sense of responsiblity and respect. Leadership is viewed not just as an obligation but also as an individual and socially respected opportunity. The ZI statute envisages the rotation of leaders: one cannot hold the same position for more than 2 years. Other important for women qualities of leaders are flexibility, compassion and social appeal. None of zontians who have achieved high positions will hold it forever.

Although the constructive doctrine of liberal society is noted for its respect for individualism, today one must not be guided just by her own private interests, we should broaden our perspective by interacting with other social groups. Today’s problems require collaborative effort. This is exactly how ZONTA functions: ZONTA empowers national and international womens’ communities to seek common solution of socio-economic problems and ensure sustainability of the results.



We need inspiring and strong leaders who possess flexibility and compassion, who will attract and lead others using their specific feminine charm. The process of becoming a leader starts with developing interactive skills, with demonstrating initiative, with developing the sense of responsibility and target orientation, even in the situation when the majority tend just to stay by and judge, rather than take steps and contribute to achieving the set goals. We need to master the very essence of community work: one should really care about common wellbeing, which requires each and everyone’s involvement. Attending ZONTA meetings is, by far, not enough: zontians should actively participate in making and implementing decisions that would bring about positive changes in their environment. Though not fully appreciated and observed, ZONTA’s fundamental principles pave way to effective leadership development.



The Lithuanian zontians found themselves under the strong influence of the Scandinavian mentality. The specific features of the Scandinavian character have been noted more than once, let us recall just a few. Scandinavians are known for their preference for minimalism in design, as well as for their strict inner discipline. All this agrees well with their direct, though polite, manner of communiction. Scandinavians are known for their highly reasonable and creative approach to satisfying their material needs. We are truly impressed by modesty and strictness of our colleagues from the so-called “rich” countries. It’s worth mentioning that Danish women are perhaps the happiest in Europe, closely followed by Norwegians and Icelanders. We see how often Norwegian women wear folk costumes on their national holidays, how they react to injustice, how often they report wrongdoings or disorders to the appropriate agencies. We are impressed by Icelanders’ efficiency in mobilising for common actions, be it a new initiative or a debate on new legislation.




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The Baltic mentality is rooted in the rustling of our green woods and glares of bonfires on the ancient moulds, Sunday bell tolls in small towns and our rich folklore: legends, fairy – tales, proverbs, riddles, and songs. Our closest Baltic neighbours Latvians say we share one distinctive feature: our peoples find it easier to express themselves in songs rather than in words. Our dowry counts one million songs. Unlike Latvians, we have songs not only about love or work, but also about war. That is the way we are: at a time romantic and militant. Whatever circumstances might be, we care about producing tangible wealth.

We are proud of the fact that women’s rights were enshrined in the Lithuanian statutes as early as 16th century. In the Lithuanian folklore, the Sun and the Moon, a woman and a man, enjoy equal importance. Although a popular proverb says: “A man supports one corner of the house, while a woman – the other three”. In a way, a similar situatiation can be observed in the 21st century. In Lithuania there are more educated women than men. If women start a business, their companies are less prone to going bankrupt. Nevertheless, men outnumber women in the area of inventions, there are more men among the laureates of national awards in arts and sciences.

We are proud of the fact that Lithiuanian women initiated and held four all-Lithuania women’s congresses in 1907, 1937, 2000, 2005. The 2000 Congress, the first one in the re-established independent Lithuania, was organised by the Lithuanian zontians and LUMA – affiliate of Women graduates (GWI). 4000 women took part in the Congress events. Our ZONTA played a big role and in the 4th Congress (2005), which brought together even more participants. The Lithuanian ZONTA long-term programmes include educational programmes for girls in the problematic regions of Lithuania, further activities to assure women’s rights, the creation and coordination of Crisis Centres, monitoring the distribution of resources, target group support etc.

ZI Lithuania area is not big, at present we have three ZONTA clubs (the fourth one, Kaunas ZC, was closed for objective reasons). Although our clubs are not numerous at the moment , the latest figures show that the number of Lithuanian zontians grew by one third in 2014–2016. Partly it is the impact of ZI leadership development programme.



30 women who, for the last 22 years, have been implementing ZI leadership in Lithuania. By the way, 22 is a symbolic figure: it is made up of the same digits that stand for Lithuania on the list of the D13 countries: 01 – Denmark, 02 – Lithuania, 03 – Iceland, 04 – Norway. 30 women managed ZI clubs in Lithuania: 11 in Vilnius (since 1994, when Vilnius ZC was established), 12 in Alytus (since 1995, when Alytus ZC was established), 8 in Marijampole (since the start of Marijampole ZC in 1998). Since 2005 five ex-presidents (3 of Vilnius and 2 of Alytus clubs) have been elected ZI D13 (02) Lithuanian area directors (AD). They worked according to the ZI statute and D13 regulations, represented 02 (Lithuanian) area in the D13 Board. All D13 governors (1994–2016) were from Denmark, Iceland or Norway. We regret to say there has not yet been any representative of Lithuania elected the D13 governor. Yes, our 02 area is small in comparing with 01, 03, 04 areas. But we hope to increase ZONTA members in Lithuania, to have more and more experience. And the day will come when a zontian from Lithuania will be elected to the district leader’s position.

The professional interests of our leaders are also worth mentioning. 9 Lithuanian ZONTA leaders represent the middle management of public service and public institutions, 6 women are in business, either owning or running enterprises, there are 5 physicians (practitioners and medical centre owners), 5 lawyers and auditors, 3 academics and university staff, 3 representatives of the arts sphere: an artist, an art gallery owner, a journalist.

At home they are caring mothers or grandmothers, loving daughters or sisters. What are their hobbies? Most of them like travelling, theatre, reading. They love housekeeping, care about making the surrounding more pleasing to the eye. Many enjoy cooking, quite a few are skillful in various craftwork. Some make fantastic jewelry, others engage in amateur arts. There are also zontians who write articles and essay books. How is it combined with ZONTA? For some, ZONTA activities come alongside their professions, but for most, ZONTA comes before, after or during their free time.

I will never forget how, during my workshop at D13 conference in Bilunde, Kirsten from Roskilde ZC said again and again: “ZONTA is my life”. For me this young looking zontian with a halo of silver grey hair and glowing eyes is the real “face of ZONTA”, I can easily see her image as an inspiring icon on the D13 home page. Do we have such zontians in Lithuania? Yes, I believe we do. Most probably they will express their attitude to ZONTA in a slightly different way: “ZONTA is a big part of my life“.


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No doubt, every zontian feels compassion for the call “Convinction – Commitment – Courage”. This slogan was launched by Marija Chose Ostergaard, ZI 2014–2016 prezident. When the ZI president visited Vilnius in October 2014, she used the slogan several times at the meeting with the Lithuanian zontians in Vilnius University. Of course every zontian will interpret the slogan in her own way. What does “conviction” mean to me? Which “committment” is expected from me? Where and why do I need “courage”? Your answers will lead you further on, beyond one’s personal perspective: to help others, to inspire and take them along. The road is not an easy one. You should keep track of your achievements and failures, you must be fair to yourself and others, you shouldn’t try to look better that you are. One should learn how to evaluate common success or failures, the ways and methods of working together.

This is what prof. Evalda Jakaitiene, AD 2010–2012, writes about ZONTA’s activities, objectives and experience: “Being AD 2010–2012, I seeked to involve all the Lithuanian ZONTA clubs in the activities that are in line with the serious professional approach and committment to one’s duties. We used to receive regular instructions from Iceland (D13 headquarters at the time) as to what we should do. My knowledge of Norwegian, good communication skills and experience in international cooperation helped me a lot. But the instructions that we received were mostly oriented to figures and budget, not to concrete actions, thus pushing aside the very essence of ZONTA’s ideology. We were required to keep up the existing clubs at all cost, to observe financial reporting deadlines, to put lots of effort into promoting ZONTA’s activities. I often went to Alytus, Kaunas, Marijampole to meet zontians and participate in their events, we had friendly warm talks, but I had a feeling that something was missing. It might be due to our lack of experience in team work, our unwillingness to delegate tasks, our unability to listen to another opinion or to present your argurement in a convining way. Another common problem is a shortage of active club members. In most clubs there were just a few members (usually 3–4) who put forward ideas and initiatives; others were passive and uncommitted.”

Thinking about the present and future of ZONTA clubs in Lithuania, each of us has, at some time or other, pondered over Hamlet’s question: “To be or not to be”. And the positive answer depends on our shared values, the attractiveness of iniciatives and activities, on meaningful results. Below you will find information about how each area director, each president of Vilnius, Alytus and Marijampole ZCs assesses her work. This catalogue provides a possibility to consider one’s personal perspective and experience in order to create a complete picture of ZONTA’s progress in our country. Can we find a methaphor for our common work: bees pruducing honey in a hive, wind-blown fluttering origami or maybe a nice pile of pots on a shelf. It would be great to hear opinions, suggestions of zontians from different countries.



In October 2015 the Lithuanian area Board meeting made a decision to publish a catalogue of the area leaders and their achievements. The choice of the Board meeting venue was symbolic: the meeting was held in Monte Pacis hospitality complex of Pazaislis Monastery, Kaunas (https://montepacis.lt/en). The founders of the place – the Pacai – were one of the most respected noble families in the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, well-known for their spirituality, patronage and creativity. When giving instructions to the builders, the founders of the Grand Palace decided that the number of windows should be equal to the number of days, the number of doors should equal the number of weeks in a year. Indeed, this is the place where you become aware of the flying time, where you feel the need to look back and to remember people for their good deeds, to preserve their names for future generations. The place inspired us to commemorate the Lithuanian zontians who initiated and carried on ZONTA’s activities in this country. We decided to prepare the catalogue for the 63rd ZI convention in June 2016 in Nice, so that not just our D13 colleagues, but zontians from all over the world get a chance to learn about the Lithuanians. To know each other means to create common ground as a pathway to mutually beneficial cooperation.

How was the cataloque created? Our first step was to create a questionnaire to collect some basic information regarding the leadership timeframe, educational and professional background; then we focused on each leader’s perspective and self-assessment, also their expectations and wishes for the ZI convention in Nice. The texts were complemented with relevant pictures and photoes of the leaders. Our designer helped create an attractive visual format. The result is the catalogue you are holding now. If you hesitate before putting it aside, we would take it as a positive assessment of our effort. We do hope there will be people who will follow our initiate. Good luck!

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D13 is one of ZI districts, 02 is the Lthuanian area in D13. We follow ZI common strategy based on ZONTA’s values. We carry out our financial obligations; our contribution to ZI budget provides for the implementation of dozens of global projects aimed at promoting women’s rights all over the world. The Lithuanian area has contributed over half million DDK.

We attach a lot of importance to implementing both national and international projects. The appreciation that we enjoy today is the result of our work in the area of women’s (girls’) rights and equal opportunities, our advocacy in the state institutions, support for schools and gifted children, assistance to women – professionals and clients – of medical centres and other organisations. We are visible not only because of the media coverage, but also thanks to cooperation and communication in social networks. Our social weight can be measured by the number of fostered leaders.

Our strength is 22 years of ZONTA in Lithuania. Our weeakness lies in the fact that we want more to receive rather than give away. Our threat is insufficient organisational appeal. Our opportunity is ZONTA’s wide network and D13 Scandinavian spirit. Our progress is driven by three key principles: openness, benefit and quality. ZONTA’s activities, projects and events should be clear and meaningful to every zontian; the results will be assessed against quality standards and benefits for the community.

ZONTA needs a motto that would unite us all; something catchy and attractive, similar to the one of Boy Scouts: duty to God, country and other people. When we want to say we have done all we had to, we often use the phrase “from A to Zet”. Zet. ZONTA. The last letter of the alphabet. Who will do it if not us, professional women, citizens of our country and of the world.



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(02 area established in 2005):




ONA BERŠKIENE (2012–2014)



(established in 1994):

Ramunė Trakymienė (1994–1996) physician, lawyer
Nijolė Vagnorienė (1996–1998) businesswoman, owner of private trade company
Regina Mikėnienė (1998–2000) doctor of medical sciences, associate professor, vice-dean of university’s faculty
Auksė Žukienė (2000–2002) co-owner of private gallery
Evalda Jakaitienė (2002–2004) habilitated doctor of humanities sciences, university professor,
Teresė Kazlauskienė (2004–2006) lawyer, judge
Laima Liegutė (2006–2008) engineer-economist, auditor
Ina Dagytė (2008–2010) doctor of social sciences, university associate professor
Lilija Socevičienė (2010–2012) physician, microsurgeon, owner of private clinic
Laima Nerkevičienė (2012–2014) engineer, lawyer, deputy director of public institution
Rasa Birutienė (2014–2016) lawyer, notary, owner of private notary office




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