and Rotary, why bring it up? It’s always been this way, hasn’t it?The answer is no. Women have been included as members of Rotary
since 1987.Go back
in time to 1983 or 84 and there might have been women walking into the
House of Friendship, but you would know she wasn’t a Rotarian.She might be a Rotary Ann or a spouse of a Rotarian. Today,
approximately 16% of Rotarians are women.
An award winning Canadian singer/songwriter, Helen Austin, has given
permission for RGHF to feature this wonderful song, celebrating 25 years
of Women and Rotary (2012)
Jack M. B. Selway, Founder & CEO of RGHF, asked me a
simple question: “Why is the study of Women and Rotary relevant today.”Why was Jean Thomson Harris included in the section about Women
and Rotary? She had never been a Rotarian!What value is her information to RGHF today?2012 will be the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling that
culminated in changes to the Rotary International Constitution allowing
women to join as of 1 July 1989.
Having been a newspaper reporter, for ten years, I
was disappointed to find that there was history, but in the form of
time-lines and fact sheets. Not
many documents written by, or about all those remarkable pioneer women
that set the world on fire nearly 25 years ago existed. There are,
however, many articles about women who were involved in Rotary, going
back to the very beginning.
The search left me a little like the proverbial cup
of tea, half-full. I longed for
the full cup of tea.I not
only wanted to know more about the First Lady of Rotary, Jean Thomson
Harris, but I also wanted to read the stories of all the other
trailblazers like Sylvia Whitlock, the first woman president of a Rotary
Club, whose story is told in this section. I also wanted to read the
stories of the first eight women district governors who were installed
all in one day and I found them here at jeanharris.org.
What did they learn from their
new roles?What could we
learn from them if we were a district governor?
Past District Governor Mimi
Altman District 6440, who served from 1995-1996 in the very district her
father had served as District Governor 80 years prior, said “Women have
proven their capabilities as Rotarians, as club presidents and district
qualities have been demonstrated at the club and district levels, the
future will see them rise to the greatest heights of Rotary,” and her
story and even a video are online here.
It’s true the history of Women and Rotary is still
being written.Yes, there
are limited statistics and names to research, but why is so much of this
history still unrecorded?
is a changing world; we must be prepared
To change with it. The story of Rotary will have to be written
again and again!"Page
253 "This Rotarian Age"
~ Paul P. Harris
Founder of Rotary
There are some interesting women in my own
club/district/zone as well as in yours. They have and are paving the way
for the future and would fall into that interesting category and surely
a few are worthy of publication.We can expect to get leads by word of mouth – someone knows
someone who knows someone – with a story to tell.
So come, let us travel through
the history of Women and Rotary.We will all grow and evolve from the experience.Help RGHF make a lasting difference.
We will begin at the very
beginning of the journey by gathering even more information about the
first lady of Rotary, Jean Harris, and conclude with your story as
President of Rotary International!
You can contribute to this work by joining RGHF at
www.joinrghf.org and when you
contribute a story for our website, you can request an additional year’s
dues, free. Meantime, RGHF continues to preserve the unique history of
Women and Rotary on these pages.
"Woman's influence in Rotary
will be like the scented flame of the alabaster lamp, filling the
organization with the light of their benign influence, and warmth of
their charming cordiality." The Rotarian Magazine, May 1913,
Russell F. Greiner