The 1989 Council on Legislation vote to admit women into Rotary clubs worldwide remains a watershed moment in the history of Rotary.
“My fellow delegates, I would like to remind you that the world of 1989 is very different to the world of 1905.1 sincerely believe that Rotary has to adapt itself to a changing world,” said Frank J. Devlyn, who would go on to become Rotary International President in 2000-01.
The vote followed the decades long efforts of men and women from all over the Rotary world to allow for the admission of women into Rotary clubs and several close votes at previous council meetings.
The response to the decision was overwhelming: By 1990, the number of female Rotarians had skyrocketed to over 20,000.
Twenty years after the Council on Legislation’s vote, Rotary has nearly 188,000 female members. Women have served in leadership positions as high as the Rotary International Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.