Advocacy and Education

Chartered March 11, 1980
Member of Zonta International

Empowering Women Locally

Zonta strives to collaborate with a global network of professionals and like-minded organizations that are committed to our campaign to empower women and to end violence against women and children. Those organizations are (but not limited to) Shalom House, Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry County (DVSCP),  Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), Greenlight Operation, She’s Somebody’s Daughter (SSD), Randi’s House of Angels, the YWCA Carlisle, the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg and Unchained at Last.

In April 2021, the Advocacy Committee coordinated an 8-day social media blast to observe each day of National Victims’ Right Week (April 18-24) during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The posts included input from legislators and organizations who share our Zonta mission for this effort.

In the Spring months of 2021, the Advocacy Committee scheduled visits with local legislators to learn how we can best advocate for our mission during and after a pandemic. In the month of March, they spent an hour with Representative Sue Helm at her East Shore office and with  Representative Sheryl Delozier at her West Shore office.  In April, they had a Zoom Meeting with Stephanie Applegate, Communications Director for Senator Aument and in May, they will hold a Zoom meeting with Sen. Mike Regan’s Legislative Assistant.

Envisioning a Sustainable and Gender-Equal Future – Climate Change

Zonta International envisions a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential. In such a world, women have access to all resources and are represented in decision-making positions on an equal basis with men. In such a world, no woman lives in fear of violence. Climate change threatens human rights, such as the right to life, food, water, health, education, livelihood, and safety. See highlights of the following key actions here.

Protecting Victims of Rape and their Children – HB 1984 (Act 95 ) signed into law

On October 29, 2020, Act 95 was signed into law to better protect victims of rape and incest–who may also be sex trafficked–from giving child custody rights to their rapists.

End Child Marriage – HB 360 signed into law

On May 8, 2020, PA Governor Wolf signed into law bill HB360 to end child marriage before the age of 18. PA is now the 3rd state (with Delaware & New Jersey) to pass this bill into law and the only state thus far to pass it with a unanimous vote in both the House and the Senate. Now, the minimum age of 18 is the law with no exceptions. For more information about the efforts to get other states to also pass this legislation, see the Unchained At Last website at

On June 26, 2019, Zonta members joined the Unchained At Last rally held at the Capitol to support an end to child marriage in the state. The key speaker was Fraidy Reiss, Executive Director of Unchained At Last who is a survivor of a forced marriage.

Zonta International is working to launch a national Public Service Announcement (PSA) billboard campaign to stop child marriages in the United States, in partnership with UNICEF USA.

Senate Bill 60 (Buyer Beware Act) signed into law

On February 5, 2020, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 60 into law, which will further protect victims of human trafficking and increase the penalty for traffickers and patrons of trafficking victims. This bill is designed to combat human trafficking by targeting the root of the problem–the demand. The people who buy sex and utilize force labor fuel the industry, creating an unending line of revenue for traffickers. Legislation is needed to redirect punishment from the trafficking survivors to those who buy and sell them.

House Bill 315 (Female Mutilation) passes

In June 2019, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 315 that Representative Murt has submitted for many years making female mutilation a felony of the first degree (imprisonment up to 20 years and a fine not to exceed $25,000). This bill amends the Crimes Code by adding a new section 3132 called Female Mutilation and defines the offenses. Representative Thomas Murt diligently addressed this issue at each of our “Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women” rallies for six years. Thank you, Congressman Wurt, for your steadfast efforts in getting this bill finally passed.

Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women & Children Rally

Each year for the past six years, the Zonta Club of Harrisburg-Hershey has held a rally at the State Capitol to recognize the International 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. The “Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women and Children” Rally is usually held in November in the State Capitol Main Rotunda. See the Events tab for more information about the rally. The rally was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


During the 16 Days of Activism, 25 November–10 December, all Zonta clubs and districts are encouraged to take part in the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign and to take local, national and international actions to influence the making and implementation of laws, as well as changing gender-based attitudes and behaviors to end violence against women and girls.

  • Zonta International believes no woman should live in fear of violence.
  • Zonta International believes we can achieve our mission of gender equality and empowering women with social justice.
  • Zonta International says “No” to child defilement.

The Safe Harbor Bill (SB 554) Passes

In October, 2018, The Safe Harbor Bill was passed by both PA houses and became law with PA Governor Tom Wolf’s signature.

Sponsored by Senator Greenleaf, The Safe Harbor Bill SB554 was created to provide immunity to sexually exploited juveniles and will treat them as victims instead of criminals.  It will provide these young girls with the assistance of restoration instead of incarceration. It protects juvenile victims from potential prosecution by diverting them into appropriate human service programs instead of the criminal justice system and establishes the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. In turn, victims are now able to receive specialized trauma health care and therapy.

In this picture, Zonta members advocated for the passage of this bill in December 2017.
The end of Human Trafficking is a cause that Zonta International has advocated for since 2002.

DVSCP Candlelight Vigil

October is Domestic Violence Month. In 2019, club members attended the annual candlelight vigil hosted by Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry County (DVSCP) at the Camp Hill Borough building. The posters represent the victims of domestic violence in the Cumberland and Perry counties.

Each year in October, (DVSCP) hold a vigil to honor the victims of Domestic Violence in these two counties. This year because of the Covid pandemic, they did not hold a vigil as usual, but DVSCP member Tonya Miller created a video to honor their memory. Click here to play it.