Wonder Women

The Rotary Club of Bangalore, an 82 year old premier service organisation honoured its 36 women members at an event titled ‘Wonder Women of Rotary’ at the Rotary House of Friendship on Lavelle Road in Bengaluru. They were presented a replica of the gavel that the Club received when it was instituted. An entertaining and enlightening talk show hosted by writer, entrepreneur and Rotarian, Sandhya Mendonca, traced the milestones that led to the event. In the not so recent past, while men in Rotary didn’t mind the wives tagging along on occasion, apparently one of the major reasons that many didn’t want women as members was because they feared that women members would upset their boys club! The doors of this Club were not open to women as members 28 years ago. In 1950, it was a Rotary club in India that had proposed at an RI Convention that the word “male” be deleted from the Standard Rotary Club Constitution. The struggle to get women into Rotary went on in many countries- Sri Lanka, Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland amongst others. It went all the way to the US Supreme Court that ruled in May 1987, that Rotary clubs may not exclude women on the basis of gender. A Rotary Club in California became the first to have women as charter members. Canada was next to admit women, and India followed in 1989. Women Rotarians made rapid strides in this country and Madhura Chathrapathy, became the first woman District Governor of Rotary in India, of District 3190 in Bangalore, in 1998. The current District Governor is also a woman, Asha Prasanna Kumar. The first woman to join Rotary Club of Bangalore was Dr. Sita Bhateja, renowned gynecologist. Three women have so far become Presidents of the Rotary Club of Bangalore, and many women are on the Board. As home makers, professionals and community members, they are brand ambassadors of Rotary. During the talk show, women Rotarians ranging from an architect, a classical dancer, doctors and corporate professionals talked about their journeys and their commitment to the organisation. Others who were honoured at the event were Sandhya Jayaprakash, Dr Asha Khatri, Nalini Nanjundayya, Sharmila Mukherjee, Sitalakshmi Chinnapa, Purnima Rangnath, Raksha Zaveri, Omana Mathews, Shanti R Baliga.