15th International Conference ZD30 in Alba: a convergence of culture, solidarity, and women’s commitment

ALBA – From September 22nd to 24th, the city of Alba was the stage for an internationally significant event, the 15th Conference of Zonta International District 30. It was a unique opportunity to bring together hundreds of women from different countries, all united by a common goal: promoting gender equality and female empowerment on a global scale to build a better world for women and girls. This year, the honor of hosting and organizing the event fell to Ivana Sarotto, Governor of the District, and Luciana Adriano, the Conference Chair, both prominent figures in Zonta leadership.

The heart of Alba began to beat in unison with the energy of the Zonta women starting from September 20th. Women from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Principality of Monaco, Romania, Switzerland, and the United States made their triumphant entrance into the city. The reception was warm and characterized by a musical aperitif at the Wine shop Roberto Sarotto. Piazza Michele Ferrero was illuminated not only by lights but also by the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the Zonta members, with the Italian folk music of Cagnasso Valente providing the soundtrack.

The following day, September 21st, was dedicated to discovering the wonders of the Alba region, declared a UNESCO heritage site. Zonta members had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of Alba, both through its historic streets and its underground depths. For wine enthusiasts, the hills of Barolo were a must-visit, with tastings and visits to the castle and the Wimu wine museum. The day ended beautifully with a dinner at the Hotel I Castelli, where guests could admire the towers of the city of Alba from its terrace, a symbol of a region rich in history and culture.

Friday, September 22nd marked another crucial moment of the Conference. At the Teatro Sociale Busca, the forum “Women Amid Changes” saw the participation of exceptional guests. From Diletta Bellotti, activist and writer, Carole Theobald from Zonta International, hailing from Australia, and Kristina Dimitrova from Bulgaria, to figures like Dario Arrigotti, honorary consul of Ukraine, Katya Nesterenko, Ukrainian journalist, Reem Abbas, activist and researcher from Sudan, Parisa Pasanderhpoor, journalist from Iran, and Fatima Haidari from Afghanistan. Current and pressing topics were discussed, moderated by journalist Valentina Ruggiu: the climate impact on migrants, gender inequalities and climate change, as well as crisis situations in countries like Ukraine, Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan. It was an intense and enriching morning that provided insights and new perspectives on global issues.

Friday afternoon offered another memorable spectacle in Piazza Duomo. Eleven Zonta members representing four clubs from areas 02 and 03 arrived on bicycles after a long journey that began in Martigny, Switzerland. Crossing breathtaking landscapes like the Grand Saint Bernard pass, these women covered a distance of 3000 km, making stops in various locations, including Pont Saint Martin in Valle d’Aosta and Alessandria, before finally reaching Alba. It was not only a demonstration of physical endurance and determination but also a symbolic act to emphasize the importance of gender equality. This epic bike ride, in addition to raising awareness about equality, also raised 5,500 euros in support of women victims of violence and the Zonta For Women Foundation. Waiting for the cyclists in the heart of the city was a warm welcome organized with the support of the Municipality of Alba and the Municipal Council for Equal Opportunities.

Friday evening saw the official opening of the Conference at the Church of San Domenico. It was attended by authorities represented by Deputy Mayor of Alba, Carlotta Boffa, and prominent representatives of Zonta International. A parade of flags from the eight countries of District 30, the USA, Zonta International, and the District added color and solemnity to the event, highlighting the importance and diversity of the Zonta network. The evening was further enriched by musical performances by Alessandra Brunengo & Ensemble Lirico Note di Seta and the Trio Koinè. Exceptional guests such as Cristina Leone, President of CTNA, and Angela Natale, Managing Director of Boeing Southern Europe, enriched the event by emphasizing the importance of promoting women in STEM careers.

The day concluded with a welcome dinner at the Palablack of Miroglio Fashion, where recognitions were given to Zonta members with over 25 years of presence in Zonta.

Saturday, September 23rd, was dedicated to the internal work of Zonta District 30. In addition to reflecting on the achievements of the previous year, the Conference looked to the future with the voting of fundamental motions for the direction of the clubs in the coming years. Discussions revolved around the importance of promoting gender equality and strategies for the period 2023-2030. It was also the moment to renew leadership, with the election of the new board of District 30, presenting key figures for the 2024-2026 biennium: the future Governor, Yana Yaneva-Gencheva, and the new board composed of Carmen Nerding, Luciana Adriano, Danielle Heredia, Heike Liebe, Annette Di Rosa, Nadia Garis, and Rozalina Nikolova Kreissl.

Roberto Sarotto, a long-time supporter of the Zonta For Women Foundation, hosted the “gala dinner” in support of the Foundation at his winery. Numerous private donations were made, and the young people of Neviglie Green also contributed their financial support.

Sunday morning took on a more reflective tone with a memorial service in memory of Zonta members who had passed away in the last two years, including Anna Ghione and Clara Masera of Zonta Club Alba Langhe Roero. This moment of reflection was made even more poignant by the performance of students from the Albese dance school Asd New Dance to the music of Ludovico Einaudi. However, the morning was not only about remembrance; it was also an opportunity to celebrate successes and recognize the efforts of the clubs in various projects throughout the year. In particular, the Zonta Club Alba Langhe Roero, represented by its President Mara Demichelis, received recognition for the important initiative “Alba says no to violence,” which involved hundreds of students in an awareness-raising event.

As the conference came to a close, eyes were already set on the future, with the announcement that the next District 30 conference will be held in Burgas, Bulgaria, in 2025.

Governor Ivana Sarotto commented: “I am deeply touched and impressed by the passion, dedication, and solidarity shown during this conference. We have addressed complex issues that require resolute and courageous actions. What we have shared and learned here in Alba will serve as a guide and inspiration for the years to come.”


Photo 1: “The Governor of District Ivana Sarotto”

Photo 2: “The District Chair Luciana Adriano”

Photo 3: “The organizing team: from left to right Mara Demichelis, Leonilda Cussotto, Nadia Biancato, Elisa Lombardi, Monica Tosin, Luciana Adriano, Ivana Sarotto, Renata Vallo, Patrizia Gobino, Carolina Berruto, Teresa Vallana.”

Photo 4: “Women amid changes – from left: Luciana Adriano, Ivana Sarotto, Elena Sarotto, Katya Nesterenko, Fatima Haidari, Valentina Ruggiu”