“We have 1.23 million members, in more clubs than ever before. New members continue to join, and choose to stay; our numbers have grown by over 8,500 new members just since July 1,” said RI President K R Ravindran addressing the session on ‘Benefits of Membership’ at the International Assembly.
While appreciating the progress Rotary has made in attracting women members who now form 20 per cent of Rotary membership, from five per cent in 1995, he pointed out that nearly one-fifth of the clubs today continue to exclude women, claiming that they simply cannot find women who are qualified for membership.
“Any Rotarian who makes this argument, or believes it, lacks the two most basic qualifications for Rotary membership: honesty and good sense. Those who choose to live in a Jurassic Park era should take a moment to remember what happened to the dinosaurs. They became extinct!”
Equality for women is not just “a nice extra. It is absolutely essential to our service, to our future. If we don’t put it front and centre, we are dead in the water before we even begin.
A club that shuts out women shuts out much more than half the talent, half the ability, and half the connections it should have. We have had women in Rotary for only the last quarter of our history, and it is no coincidence that those years have been by far our most productive.” Gender discrimination will make Rotary less attractive to potential members, especially the younger generation.
Urging the incoming DGs to rise up to the challenges they may face in their year, Ravindran concluded with a quote of Archimedes: ‘Give me a lever that is long enough, and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I can move the world.’
“The fulcrum is Rotary. And Rotarians are the lever. Together, we can move the world. And we will.”