Women Power, R.I.D. Elizabeth Demaray

For more than 80 years, Rotary’s Bylaws stated that members shall be ‘men’ of good character in professional occupations. This was done because, in the early 1900s, most jobs outside the home were held by men only. In 1989 at the Council on Legislation, delegates realized that women were now having careers beyond the home, and were now in those same professional occupations alongside their male counterparts. The Council voted at that time that membership shall be open to both genders. 

As we look at today’s businesses and professional occupations, we see that in many cultures, men and women hold these positions equally. As it was in the early 1900s, Rotary should reflect the make-up of the community in which it resides. Clubs are strongly encouraged to invite both males and females to membership.

As I’ve visited many clubs around the world, I have seen firsthand that the clubs who have become dual gender are the stronger Rotary clubs. I don’t say this because I think it is the women who have made the club stronger. I say this because clubs that are balanced with diversity of gender (as well as race, religion and classifications), are generally stronger clubs.

Men and women have different strengths, different talents, different management styles and different ways of dealing with situations. It is this mix of differences that gives the club the ability to get things done most effectively. The all male or all female clubs are missing a great opportunity that diversity brings.

Now and then we hear from all male clubs that they are “open” to women, however they “haven’t found any” to invite. To that I say….open your eyes! 

R.I.D. Betsy

15 thoughts on “Women Power, R.I.D. Elizabeth Demaray

  • Saturday night it was, for a miracle, not raining, so I went to the Asakusa district with Ted and Mitzuko. Remember, I went there with Herb one afternoon shortly after I arrived? It is the black market shop district, major prostitution area, home of all organized crime, and a kind of circus carnival–not to mention the fact that the whole district revolves around the Kwannon temple and a famous Shinto shrine! Typical Japanese situation–the temple and the shrine became the focus for a market in feudal days, which then developed into a tough district of Tokyo, but the religious aspect of the place continues to thrive. Actually at night it closes down early, so most of the shops were shut. The night club district was open, however. This is absolutely unreal. Tiny little winding alleys with brand new, cake-like, pastel bars and night clubs, the street paved with stone blocks and everything neat. It is a dead ringer for a “Street in Tokyo” at some world fair. The whole business looks so damn impermanent and unreal. Since all the doors and windows are wide open, you lose all sense of being outdoors, especially on a warm, still night, which Sat. was.

  • Here is the latest explanation my Rotary club received (from an officer of Rotary International) as to how clubs can continue to exclude women from their membership without breaking any RI bylaws:

    RCP 4.040 page 18 in the RI Manual of Procedures is the loophole.

    What it translates to mean is:

    If there is another Rotary club in the same locality that is dual gender, all the women recruits can be sent there by the male only club.

    After this explanation was given during an official DG visit while attending my club’s board meefing, one of the member left the board room in tears. This just happened in late October 2012.

    For weeks now I have asked the General Secretary of RI this question VIA Facebook and email:

    In reference to RCP 4.040, are USA Rotary Clubs permitted by RI to continue their practice of excluding women from their membership as long as there is another Rotary Club in the same locality that is dual gender, YES or NO?

    The General Secretary wrote me back and said to ask “Alicia” this question. He gave me her email address. I wrote Alicia two days ago and she still has not answered my question on behalf of RI.

    I invite others to ask the question.

  • Well approximately $7500 later not including lawyer fees (I would imagine) the RI board voted on foreign soil (Bangkok Thailand) that their was “insufficient evidence”. Apparently the entire district leadership of D6760 coming forward that one of their clubs of over 140 male only members is not gender discriminating. This vote passed even though the District leadership showed the RI board this clubs’ refusal to even solicit a plan on how they would begin to solicit women into their membership. I received a copy of their newsletter that explained this. The General Secretary ordered the Rotary Club of Union City TN to submit a plan by June 2013. Then what? Do we wait another 25 years? Since the General Secretary refuses to answer this question with a yes or no response: Is it acceptable Rotary behavior to restrict a USA Rotary’s club membership to single gender, yes or No? …….then “Diversity” will remain just a buzzword. And the dog and pony shows will go on.

  • Hello Jim,

    I am still waiting for the results of the April 10th and June 2012 RI Board meeting that will set the precedence for clubs that refuse to accept both genders into their membership as apparently shown in their long standing membership record of being single gender, and/or other indisputable evidence brought against them…(“on a case by case basis”).

    (see March issue of the Rota Reader for zone 33 and 34 for this information on pg 4).

    What will RI decide to do about this issue? What did the $7500 hearing fee accomplish when examining the Rotary Club of Union City TN? Is it possible to even put a Rotary Club on trial for this behavior when RI has not answered this question publicly or even just to me….

    Is it an acceptable practice in Rotary International to recognize a club and allow them to exclude an entire gender from a USA Club’s membership?

    YES or NO?

    Should RI continue to recognize such a USA club if found the evidence is indesputable by the court of public opinion and the common sense of any semi- intelligent person?

    I have been waiting patiently for the past 9 months for an official YES or NO answer from RI. My leave of absence is up on July 1st, a time in which my club must let me go. This is a sad commentary indeed since it is a wonderful club I helped charter as President in 2009.

    Critics might say, “Why take it out on your club?….this is not Service Above Self”.

    My answer: All I want to do is make a conscious decision of whether or not I want to remain a Rotarian and receive their mandatory magazine. My true friends will always remain my true friends. The ones that write me off because I no longer belong to their club, were never friends in the first place. Besides, I am capable of serving others without paying dues to a brand I don’t fully understand.

    Perhaps this is what is behind the fear, the co-dependency, the group think and the old guard’s resistance to change. They are afraid of being alone among their peers. It must be a terrible fear and feeling.

    “Service Above Self” does not mean subjecting yourself to a “Brand”/buying into a brand…that can not identify who they are on such a fundamental level by stating they will not accept (recognize) USA clubs that purposely exclude an entire gender from their club’s membership…nor any other form of discrimination that would insult the standards of our basic EEOC laws OR violate RI’s Club Compliance for National Law (page 7 in the RI MOP 2010).

    History has taught us the importance of fully understand who is leading and how, before sending in money, able bodies and wearing a symbol. Remember, this all started in 1978 when RI pulled the charter of a tiny club just for allowing women to join. To argue club’s have totally autonomy to express their “culture” now and even back in 1977 is really quite absurd.

    The term “club autonomy” should ONLY be used in reference to allowing clubs to choose their own service projects (and club services) as long as it is in line with the OBJECT OF ROTARY.

    Don’t accept from your RI Director or General Secretary that he or she has little power over “club autonomy” or a club’s chosen “culture”. History has proven otherwise in the case of the Rotary Club of Union City TN and the Rotary Club of Duarte (who lost their charter for 10 years!)….just to name a few.

    A corporation like Rotary International that is worth over a billion dollars in assets has power….
    and so do you.

    Here is a thought for discussion:

    What will happen if RI headquarters is moved out of the USA and into a country that does not have laws like the USA’s federal EEOC laws that are built on the premise of what is fair to all concerned?

    A Past RI President is very worried about this happening. Can you remember which RI Convention he mentioned this topic? See if anyone you know can recall this chilling speech.

    It can happen, and the tax exemption status may go away along with other basic civil rights.

    If anything, I love Rotary and I am willing to pull of the band-aid quickly and face the sting if it means moving and melting this glacier a little faster.
    Time could be running out.

    • Hi Jim it is now 2015 and I have an update to your
      question. Evidently according to RI BOD minutes
      up to $7500 was spent on this one hearing in 2012.

      And to date, no changes except one.

      The RI President Ravindran wrote me back a week
      ago concerning my questions. He assured me he
      would get back to me. Email me at bbcoble@yahoo.com
      if you want up dates or check back to this blog.

      BTW our fees for the COL went up to $1.50 for semi
      annual dues. My questions are finally getting
      the attention they deserve. Stand by.

  • I would like to make a correction that it is not certain whether or not the Rotary Club of Union City TN actually put it in their bylaws and/or constitution that they exclude women from becoming members. However it is important to note that clubs that have not invited women into their membership for 5 years, 10 years, 25 years or 89 years or even as little as 1 year, are under the court of public opionion if it is an all male club. The same is true for clubs that only have women. Depending on the area will help form the opionion based on the surrounding business owners and known gender demographics.
    What is factual, is that both men and women make up the business community. Rotary is supposed to reflect the diversity of their community, and we all know both men and women are business owners. To leave out an entire gender is a form of disenfranchisment. This is why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did back in 1987.

  • Dear RID Betsy,

    For those who comment that “I can’t believe we are still hung up on the gender issue”….I applaud them. Unfortunately RI is still caught up on the gender issue. Just look at the interpretation code on page 171 in the RI Manual of Procedures….plug in the permissive words “may”….”should”….add in “limited” ….and “encouraged” (the other permissive words used in RCP 4.040 and RIB 4.070) and one will understand we have a long way to go in ending gender discrimination. Near the heart of the U.S. capital we still have Rotary clubs that after 89 years will still not accept women in their membership. Why? Because they refer back to RCP 4.040…and send their unwanted gender (women) to the nearest rotary club that does accept them. Governors are only ” encouraged” to promote dual gender membership in all clubs. I was told by RID John Smarge my DG was not required to help me end this form of discrimination in a club where I was assigned as an AG. I was terminated by an officer of RI after asking for help with this club that holds the chief of police, the mayor and other high ranking officials. Unlike Union City TN RC, they did not put it in their club bylaws and constitution that they don’t accept women, instead they just have a board member call the woman (like they did with me) and explain it is their culture. An RI officer broadcasted via email
    that Rotarians are forbidden to attempt to change this clubs view of women in Rotary…nor will he make any attempts. I forwarded these emails to the proper authorities in RI and all I got back was the RI board encourages clubs to reflect the diversity of the community. Now I understand Union City RC
    is facing a hearing based on page 177 “disapline for cause”3.030.5….where there has to be a unanimous vote by the international RI board to revoke a charter. In 1977 when RI revoked the Rotary club of Duart just for allowing women to join, I doubt there had to be a unanimous vote. Women were invited into Rotary because this tiny club faught RI at the Supreme court hearing of 1987….and won.
    Apparently the permissive language used concerning dual gender clubs on page 18 in the RI MOP is a reflection of the chip on their shoulder. If the Lions club (an international organization ) can use “shall” in their zero tolerance policy on gender discrimination….why can’t Rotary. We have RIB “club compliance for national law” on page 7 in the MOP. How can RI,justify breaking tax laws under RIs 501.3(c)?

    Remember they terminated an AG for asking for help with a club that openly admitts they do not want women. And RI put it in writing this us acceptable culture. All emails available upon request. bbcoble@yahoo.com

  • The speed at which Rotary adopts changes makes glaciation seem fast. It has now been 30 years since women were first admitted to Rotary and people are still asking if it is a good idea. Only 10% of Rotarians are women as many clubs actively and indirectly bar women either by not inviting them to join or by continuing the tradition of never asking anyone to join. Go to any district meeting and it is still 90%+ male. A female friend of mine said that in order for a woman to be considered half as good as a man she needs to be twice as good. Fortunately that is not too difficult. Men have had that same length of time to fix Rotaries recruitment issues and failed spectacularly. The way to fix this problem is to actively recruit and only actively recruit women directly into Rotary and to phase out inner wheel which is a barrier to Rotaries female growth.

    • Dear litesp33d,

      It is public knowledge of what I have stated about the RC Union City TN…as stated on page 34 of the January RI board minutes.
      It takes one amazing DG to show he is not affraid of the old guard and the blackballing that goes on in business organizations. Here is the letter stating more information about the April 10th hearing. I have the procedures document on how the hearing will be conducted. See both below. Keep your fingers and toes crossed that no longer can Rotarians just “Pay” to “Play” in the eyes of RI. It is not easy to pull a charter of a club of 150 male professional members because of all the charity they generate for the Foundation. My prayers are with the international RI board that they will understand that in order to grow Rotary beyonde 1.25 million members (a number we have been stuck at for two decades) we have to be honest about our “brand”. Clearly the actions and written bylaws and constitution are a case of speaking out of both sides of ones mouth. It is time that we respect the culture and laws of our land as cited in “Club Compliance for National Law”. See documentation below where the entire U.S can watch and see what happens to a club that has not had a woman in its membership as suspected since 1936 or at least since the Supreme Court Ruling of 1987. It is time to turn up the heat and melt that glacier! Check out the documents below from Gen. Sec John Hewko and pass it along! If others question why this is so important, remember, the new generation is depending on us to Brand the new Rotary, where we are no longer made up of white males having lunch (as the BBC reported in a survey not very long ago). My daughter was a Rotaract student and she read between the lines too. Needless to say, she no longer desires to be in Rotaract. This makes me very sad indeed. But who is to blame her when in 2012 the RI bylaws have a separate catagory for “dual gender clubs” as if it needs to mentioned at all on page 18 after the RIB bylaw on page 12 states no club may limit its membership based on Race, Gender etc… Why even mention dual gender clubs at all with this bylaw in place? Because the word “MAY” is used that is why. Wake up, this problem will not go away until there are enactments to RIB 4.070 and RCP 4.040 should be taken out and replaced with a more intelligent statement instead of giving clubs the idea to send their unwanted gender to the nearest club that does except both genders. The onus should be on the club and district to prove why it is against the law for men and women to be members of the same Rotary Club and not the other way around. Each hearing will cost RI $7500 (see January RI board minutes page 34) multiply that figure by the 22 single gender clubs (intentionally single gender clubs) in zones 33 and 34 and you have a whopping bill of $165,000 spent on hearings where RI can not even state in their RI Bylaws and Constitution: It is not acceptable culture in RI and Rotary Clubs within the USA to gender discriminate for the purpose of having a single gender membership as it violates tax exemption priviliages under RI’s 501 3 (c). Talk about putting the cart before the horse! Read the details of this hearing below:
      March 9th:

    • Pursuant to Article 3.030.5. of the Rotary International Bylaws and the decision of the RI Board, notice is hereby given that a hearing will take place concerning allegations made by the leadership of District 6760 against the Rotary Club of Union City that it is violating Article 4.070. of the RI Bylaws by limiting its membership on the basis of gender. A copy of the official statement of the allegations is enclosed.
      The hearing will take place on 10 April 2012, beginning at 10:00 A.M. and will be held at One Rotary Center, 1560 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, Illinois 60202. A hearing committee composed of RI Directors Samuel Owori (Chair), Yash Das, Kenneth Schuppert and John Smarge will conduct the hearing pursuant to the enclosed rules and procedures. The club is entitled to be represented by counsel at the hearing.

      • Rules and Procedures
        For Hearing
        Pursuant to Article 3.030.5.
        The general secretary has established the following rules and procedures to govern the hearing designated in Decision 221 taken at the Board’s January 2012 meeting.
        1. The hearing shall be conducted by a hearing committee that has been appointed by RI President Kalyan Banerjee comprising RI Directors Samuel Owori (Chair), Yash Das, Kenneth Schuppert and John Smarge. In the event that a committee member is unable to participate in person at the hearing, President Banerjee shall appoint a replacement.
        2. The hearing shall take place on 10 April 2012 at 10:00 A.M. at One Rotary Center, 1560 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60202. The start time may be subject to change based on logistical constraints.
        3. The Rotary Club of Union City (the Club), District 6760 (the District) and the general secretary shall each submit a written statement via email or hard copy, with copies to the other parties, by 27 March 2012. Each party’s written statement shall include the principal arguments and attach all evidence that the party intends to rely upon. If evidence is testimonial, the party is strongly encouraged to submit a signed declaration from the witness. If a party intends to present live testimony, the written statement shall include a detailed summary of the testimony to be presented. The Club, the District and the general secretary may each submit a supplemental written statement, solely to respond to another party’s written statement, by 3 April 2012. The general secretary shall provide all written statements to the hearing committee in advance of the hearing.
        4. The Club is entitled to be represented by counsel at the hearing.
        5. The hearing shall follow the following general format: opening remarks from the Chair; opening remarks from the general secretary; opening statement from the District; opening statement from the Club; questions from the hearing committee; and closing statements (if any) from the Club and District. Each statement shall be limited to 20 minutes in length, subject to extension by the Chair. Statements and comments should be addressed to the Chair. General secretary staff may participate as appropriate. The hearing committee, through its Chair, may make reasonable changes to the general format suitable for the purpose of the hearing.
        6. During its respective opening statement, the District and Club may reference such evidence as is relevant and material to the allegations. Conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary. The hearing committee, through its Chair, shall determine the admissibility, relevance, and materiality of the evidence offered and may exclude evidence deemed by it to be cumulative or irrelevant.
        7. RI Directors shall have the opportunity to observe the hearing via electronic means. Directors may submit questions for the hearing committee’s consideration prior to the hearing.
        8. The general secretary may record the hearing by audio, video and/or stenographic means.
        9. Following the hearing, the hearing committee shall draft a recommendation to the Board for consideration at its next meeting.
        10. The general secretary may amend these Rules and Procedures, with reasonable notice to the hearing committee and the parties, consistent with the RI Bylaws and Decision 221

    • Dear Kevin,

      I am so happy to hear this about your club. The Club I chartered as President in 09′ is the same way, about 45% female. It has been a wonderful experience bringing the community together and working hard for a cause. Rotary has taught me to no longer display apathy, we are to roll up our sleves and get it done through the power of many. In our club we reach out to single moms, stay at home moms and retirees as well. These women are the hardest workers and their classification is of little importance as long as they have good morals and ethics. Besides raising children is a vocation in itself. The idea behind Rotary is to empower those want to do good in the world,

Feedback welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s