Why single out women in Rotary?


The dust from a pink storm of another Women’s Day celebration has settled down to a year of rest. Facebook, WhatsApp, and newspapers of course, were flooded with pictorial details of lunches, gifts, movies, awards, etc for women cutting across all strata of life. What’s more, my maid also did not turn up citing the same reason!

While going through this euphoria I felt terribly left out, as it seemed I was the only one not having a good time. Rather, there I was, slogging through my club’s TRF contributions. This set me thinking “What’s wrong with these females?”, or, more frightening “Is something wrong with me?”

When someone says a ‘lady Rotarian,’ they are actually suggesting that you are not one of them but an odd one out in their holy kingdom.

Half the world’s population going gaga over the allotment of a single day to them makes me really nervous. Going through the list I find this special
day sandwiched between World Wildlife Day and World Sleep Day. Really? I think this appeasing is ridiculous and absurd. Women, by even acknowledging such a day, show just what they think of themselves. Second grade human beings happy with 24 hours of interim glory?

Similarly, nowadays there is this uneasy babel about Women in Rotary, our organisation, presently in its 111 years of existence. Initially, being a ‘men only’ entity, it successfully kept women out of its fold for many years. But for three decades now Rotary has opened its doors to welcome women members. Perhaps it finally realised that the presence of women was necessary for survival in the 21st century. Fine. So, now we have the ‘lady

Ever heard of an ‘Indian’ Rotarian, or ‘American,’ or ‘Brazilian’ Rotarian? Or, for that matter, a Hindu, Christian, or Muslim Rotarian? Of course you haven’t …  for Rotary is above caste, creed, nationality. But not gender. When someone says a ‘lady Rotarian’ or a ‘lady President,’ they are actually suggesting that you are not one of them but an odd one out in their holy kingdom.

No women’s empowerment programme is going to work where women doubt their own parity.

Women, extensively, are fighting a multitude of injustice, but discrimination and segregation, are the worst of all wrongdoing. In Rotary, everyone is a Rotarian. We are on the same platform. A President is simply a President, a Governor, just that. Gender is incidental. And, there is no need for hashtags.

Equally disturbing is the new trend of ‘all ladies’ Rotary clubs. This concept is again beyond comprehension and should be taken note of very seriously. If women wanted to alienate themselves and be restrictive, then what was wrong with Inner Wheel? Women fought to be a part of Rotary. Now, by being exclusive, they are throwing themselves back into the isolation from where they came. Are these Rotarians planning not to go into the district or international arena? Rotary, I understand and hope, is no kitty party.

To permeate and blend is the best way to equality. If women want to be accepted as comparable entities, they have to think of themselves as equal. No women’s empowerment programme is going to work where women doubt their own parity. As long as they are happy being a sacrificing daughter, sister, wife or mother, they will never be seen as an individual.

In the present challenging times and scenario, we at Rotary can do better than debate and discuss Women in Rotary. We would be better off searching for Rotary in Women, Rotary in Men and above all Rotary in Rotarians.

(The writer is IPP, RC Surat Roundtown, District 3060)

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