Ignore women at your peril RI President KR Ravindran warns Rotarians at the International Assembly that discriminating against women will doom Rotary into irrelevance.

“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.”

One comment on “Ignore women at your peril

  • Apr 07 2016 at 4:00 pm

    In August of 2015, RI President Ravindran called me personally to let me know that my country, the United States, has a serious problem with many clubs not allowing women in, they are hiding behind the rules and things. He wanted the names of women victims but I reminded him later in an email that you don’t need a woman victim to answer my three RI policy questions.
    1) Is it ever acceptable Rotary Club behaviour in the USA to exclude all women from their membership, YES or NO?
    2) Did RCP 4.040 “Dual Gender Clubs” page 18 in the 2010 RI Manual of Procedures ever translate to mean: “Clubs can continue to exclude women from their membership as long as there is another Rotary Club in the same locality that is dual gender, …YES or NO?”
    3) Does Article 15 page 171 in the RI Manual of Procedures 2013 cause RIB 4.070 (on diversity) to NOT be a mandatory bylaw because the “permissive” word “May,” is used instead of the mandatory words, “SHALL,” “IS” and “ARE”, ….YES or NO?
    Understand that when someone like me gets terminated from my appointed position as AG in public email with no explanation and just after asking question #1, hearts are broken. I spent thousands of dollars on training, and as soon as I applied what I learned I was squashed like a grasshopper. Imagine as a woman, being assigned a club to serve as AG and told by a member of RI they are a gentleman’s only club … and to leave the boys alone. This changes you. Especially when other women “victims” have come forward and turned to you. Imagine this happening during the 25-year celebration of when women were invited to join Rotary.
    Thank you RI President Ravindran. You are the first sitting RI President to personally write me back and call me. Although you didn’t give me what I wanted, you have expressed very loud and clear, “Ignore women at your peril”. The question is whose peril and what century?


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