By Faiza Shafeek

Here we are with our fourth editorial answering the question of “What is, or who is, a Rotarian.”

So this month we come to women in Rotary, just like women and the vote the journey was a long one.

Paul Harris, formed the first Rotary Club in February 1905, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and give back to their communities, while forming meaningful, lifelong friendships. Although clubs had been dedicated to the idea of service for more than 100 years, many were not always fond of the idea of allowing women to join the clubs.

Early days

In early 1950, The Council on Legislation for the Rotary International (RI) Convention voted for the proposal to allow women to join rotary to be withdrawn. This was also the outcome for the next two proposals, made in 1964, to allow women into the clubs.

By 1972, more women began reaching high positions in their professions, and more clubs began lobbying for female members. It was in this same year that a United States Rotary Club again proposed admitting women into Rotary at the Council on Legislation and again it was refused. In 1977, despite three more proposals being made, women where still not permitted to be members.

Women welcomed

It was on 4th May 1987 some 37 years after the first proposal to allow female members into Rotary, that the US Supreme Court ruled that Rotary Clubs worldwide could no longer exclude women from membership based on gender. With women being welcomed into Rotary Clubs around the world, by 1990 there were approximately 20,200 female Rotarians, worldwide. Today, there are well over 200,000 female Rotarians, working alongside their male club mates, to serve their community.


Jennifer E. Jones, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland, Ontario, Canada, has been nominated to become Rotary International’s president for 2022–23, a ground-breaking selection that will make her the first woman to hold that office in the organization’s 115-year history.

As the first woman to be nominated to be president, Jones understands how important it is to follow through on Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion “I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion begins at the top and for us to realize growth in female membership and members under the age of forty, these demographics need to see their own reflection in leadership,” Jones said. “I will champion double-digit growth in both categories while never losing sight of our entire rotary family.”

Come join us

If you wish to know more or are interested in becoming a Rotarian, then please contact Faiza Shafeek – The Assistant District Governor for Rotary District 1120 at: