Posted on Mar 06, 2024
March 8th is International Women’s Day.  2024 marks 35 years since Rotary International changed their governing documents, in 1989, to permit the addition of women into Rotary clubs as active members.  The Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024 is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”. It’s a call to action and a reminder that gender equality is one of the most effective ways to build healthier, more prosperous, and more inclusive communities.  Because women’s success is everyone’s success!
In 1977 the Rotary Club of Duarte California admitted women as members in violation of the Rotary International Constitution.  Because of this violation the club’s membership in Rotary International was terminated.  On May 4 1987 the US Supreme Court rule that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender.  Rotary issued a policy statement that any Rotary Club in the US can admit qualified women into membership, and reinstated the Duarte club.  Sylvia Whitlock of the Duarte club became the first female Rotary club President.  Subsequently the Rotary Club of Marin Sunrise California was chartered on May 28 1987 and became the first club to have women as charter members.

The response to this change was overwhelming.  Within a year – by June 1990 – the number of female Rotarians had skyrocketed to over 20,000.  By July 2016 the number had surpassed 250,000 and continues to grow. Women immediately embraced the leadership opportunities provided by their clubs and have been making an impact in communities around the world including serving as President of Rotary International (Jennifer Jones 2022-2023, Stephanie Urchick 2024-2025). 
Our Rotary club has been well served by female Presidents for 10 of its 23 years since being chartered.  As well we are proud to say that our club membership is 50% female.