- Melinda Gates
Thursday 8th March is International Women’s Day and I am pleased that seven of our members /partners will be attending the Nillumbik International Women’s Day Dinner. It is important that Diamond Creek Rotary is represented at community events such as this and the agenda for the evening looks to be interesting and stimulating.
It is hard to believe that until 1989, the Constitution and By-laws of Rotary stated that Rotary was for men only. Back in 1979 the Rotary Club of Duarte in California, USA admitted three women as members and because of this their charter was revoked. Not to be deterred, the club filed a lawsuit which ultimately resulted in the U.S Supreme Court ruling that Rotary may not exclude women as members on the basis of gender. This was on 4th May 1987 and on the 28th of May the Rotary Club of Marin Sunrise, California was chartered with the first ever female President.
Rotary membership was quickly embraced by women and by June 1990, there were over 20,000 female members worldwide.
Currently there are over 270,000 female Rotarians throughout the world, putting them at about 23% of the total number of Rotarians. Similarly about 24% of Rotarians in our District are women, but in Diamond Creek Rotary we have 37% female membership.
Here in Australia, there is an organisation called ‘Women in Rotary’ which is an initiative of the Rotary Club of Albert Park. Their core value is that: ‘Rotary provides opportunities for ordinary women to do extraordinary things through membership and participation.’ One of their targets is for female membership of Rotary to reach 50% by 2020. It seems a hard ask, but it’s not impossible.
Now is a good time for all of us to think about women we know, who would perhaps make good Rotarians. Why not think about friends, family members, colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances and invite them to attend one of our meetings. We could be well on the way to reaching 50% female membership.