Aysha Emmerson of Victoria Wins 2018 Zonta International Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

For immediate release July 9, 2018


VICTORIA, BC – A Victoria student has won the 2018 Zonta International Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

Aysha Emmerson, a 17-year-old graduate of St. Michaels University School, first won the Zonta Club of Victoria scholarship, went on to secure the Zonta District 8 scholarship and has been awarded one of the 10 international scholarships. She was the only winner in Canada.

Emmerson is scheduled to attend Harvard University in the fall and intends to concentrate on Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and Global Health and Health Policy.
“I want to use my words to inspire, to empower, to build bridges and break down stigmas,” she said. “I want to give voice to the dispossessed by using my words to teach others how to use theirs. “Globally, women face challenges that obstruct their empowerment. Poverty, gender inequality and insufficient education are overarching obstacles that must be addressed. Gender inequality takes the form of violence, unequal pay and opportunities, sex trafficking and child marriage and gender roles and ideals, “Emmerson said.

The Zonta Club of Victoria is marking its 50th anniversary this year, and is proud that the Victoria club and District 8 winner has been selected for one of the 10 International awards, each worth $4,000 US, said club president Barbie Zipp. Thirty-two District winners from 19 countries competed. “Aysha Emmerson is one of the most extraordinary people I have encountered in my career as an educator,” said Kate Knight, university counsellor and academic counsellor at St. Michaels University School. “She is the ‘real deal’ – globally minded and socially conscious, able to create vision at the big-picture level and deliver on every aspect of the detail.  “Aysha is an outstanding scholar, prepared for the rigor of post-secondary with the skills and habits of mind to contribute to the learning community.”

The 2017-2018 Head Girl at SMUS co-chairs the 40-member prefect assembly, runs school gatherings and serves as a liaison between teachers and students. She is involved in the school’s sailing, cross-country and soccer teams and is a member of Chapel team, the newspaper, service council, service leadership and model UN.  Emmerson has served as head of ME-to-WE Club and 30h Famine Club the past two years, sits on the Vancouver Island Royal Commonwealth Society Youth Council, which discusses world issues, youth engagement in the Commonwealth, and addressed an audience of 18,000 at WE Day Vancouver 2017 in October. She founded Self.I.E (Self Inspiration and Empowerment), an organization that conducts day-camps for girls entering middle-school. Run by high-schoolers, each day of camp includes activities and reflections on one of five themes: self-care, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-defence and self-to-others.  “The goal is to help a vulnerable age-group appreciate and understand themselves, allowing them to flourish, so they can give back and support other girls,” Emmerson said. She is exploring partnerships for its roll-out.

Emmerson volunteered during the summers of 2014/15/17 with Project Somos in Guatemala, a leader in female empowerment: providing basic needs, education, vocational skills and counselling to at-risk mothers and their children. Project Somos is an NGO located in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Its mission is to prevent child abandonment by supporting widowed and single mothers who are at risk of losing their children due to poverty and difficult living situations.

Zonta District 8 covers Alaska, BC, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.The goal of the Zonta International Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Award Program is to encourage young women to participate in public affairs by recognizing a young woman’s commitment to the volunteer sector, evidence of volunteer leadership achievements and a dedication to the empowerment of women.

Zonta International, with world headquarters in Oak Brook, IL, USA, is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

For more information please call:
Barbie Zipp 250-881-3515