Women and Rotary

Women in Service to Rotary 

1982 Discussion

Dorothy Dochterman: Good morning to the women of Rotary. It is wonderful seeing so any of you here today. And good morning to the men of Rotary.—I see you came also. I think they are trying to keep an eye on us, girls. What do you think?This morning one of our panelists is missing. As Beth said, there were six of us. Unfortunately, June Renouf, wife of the past president of Rotary
 International, is ill has been
down for several days, and we certainly are going to miss her. Each panelist represents a different region of the Rotary world, and June represented Australia. But let me introduce the other women who are here with us this morning:  


The first woman I would like to present is Celia Elena Cruz de Giay, from Argentina. She is from Arricefes, Argentina. Celia's husband is Luis Vicente Giay a member of the R.I. Planning Committee, and a group leader at the international assembly at Boca Raton this year.  


Celia is the mother of three sons. Her volunteer community activities include work with the public library, the Polyphone Choir, the Domingo Savio Home School, and the Superior Institute of Santa Teresita del Nifto Jesus.  


Celia is the past president of the Female Wheel of the Arrecifes Rotary club and a leader in the district forum of Female Wheels. Celia has spoken in many countries in Latin America about service of Women and Rotary. Would you please stand, Celia. [Applause]  


I am very happy to introduce to you this morning Lucy Imrie-Brown from Cheam, Surrey, England. Lucy is a physiotherapist. She is married to Douglas Imrie-Brown, a director of R.I. They have two married daughters and a third daughter to be married soon and one grandson.  


Lucy is active in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council for Research and is interested in gardening, reading, sewing, and entertaining overseas visitors. She also is a district officer in Inner Wheel.  


Douglas Imrie-Brown is a member of the Westminster East Rotary club. Would you please stand, Lucy. [Applause]  


Our next panelist is Usha Saboo, from Chandigarh, Union Territory, India. Usha is married to Raja Saboo, a director of R.I. Usha has two sons. She enjoys studies in the humanities, qardeninq, landscaping, and Indian classical music.  


Usha has served as a volunteer in the blood bank and child welfare societies, slum areas, leprosy colonies, and mentally and physically handicapped youth organizations. She is a member of the International Inner Wheel.  


It is my great pleasure to introduce Usha Saboo. Would you stand, Usha,  


Now our last panelist. May I introduce to you Lucy Soderstrom of Helsinki, Finland. Lucy’s husband is Olof a past director of R.I., and currently a Trustee of the Rotary Foundation. Lucy is the mother of three children and eight grandchildren and has served as charter president of the Rotary organization associated with the Rotary Club of Helsinki-Helsingfors, Finland. She served as charter President of the Inner Wheel, and is now vice-chairman of the Elderly Ladies’ Home in Helsinki. Please present to you Lucy Soderstrom. [Applause]  


Lucy Soderstrom: Rotary is for men and I wouldn't change that a bit. [Applause] We are not going to discuss, this morning, women joining Rotary. In most areas of the world, if Rotary is to achieve its true value, it takes the interest, enthusiasm, and participation of the Rotary wives. All those ladies on the panel today have been personally selected by President Stan McCaffrey to represent their regions.  


Now in a few minutes we will go to the audience and get questions from you. We would like your questions brief; we have a very limited time. We would ask you to ask a question or talk about a service project. You would step to one of the microphones. There are three microphones on the main floor and one in the balcony, so there are four microphones. A staff member will assist at each microphone, and you will be recognized for your question or your comment. Please keep your remarks short, as I asked. If you would like to direct one of your questions to a specific panelist, please call her by name, and she would be glad to answer your question.


 I would like to begin by asking the women on the panel to tell us how the women in their part of the world are organized, and perhaps give us a couple of illustrations of service activities. Celia Giay, please!  


Celia Giay: Thank you. We have our hourly sessions. They are local groups. As for members, performers, and activities, they are sponsored by the Rotary Club, but keep total autonomy. Though the groups have not always the same name in each country, there is complete agreement on the acceptance of their friendship and service. They are organized as a world group, with a board committee and different sub-committees. They meet once or twice a month; it depends.  


Normally the program is a Rotary information report on certain topics, delivered by invited guests. Sometimes the program is only to work for the community. They are funded from different sources, such as organizing fashion shows or bingo and so on. They give a great variety of service in the commu­nity they are a part of. The kind of service depends on the community. In general the service they offer is directed mainly to minors, to children, youth, and elderly people. They also care about health and education, and they support community institutions as well as the Rotary club.  


I will give you one example of a valuable service. In my country, Argentina, nine Female Wheels of Cordoba City go to the children's hospital and give help to handicapped children of the city, worth $50,000. This and many other services are valuable and important, but—I think—of all the benefits, the most important is the generous and continuous action of each one of the women of Latin America who have realized that the real greatness of Rotary is to give a service to all, united in friendship.  


It is giving of ourselves that Rotary proclaims, and this is what we have been doing and we want to keep on doing. Not invading the men's field, but sharing the work and organization with them.  


At present we can very proudly say that in Latin America these groups have realized an effective community service and they are permanent allies of the Rotary clubs in the main task of service. Thank you. [Applause]  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you Celia. Lucy Imrie-Brown!  


Lucy Imrie-Brown: In Great Britain and Ireland a very large proportion of the Rotary clubs have a corresponding Inner Wheel Club. International Inner Wheel consists of clubs for the wives to get to know one another and work together for friendship and understanding. One also has the opportunity of having friends in one's town, one's country, and throughout the world. At present there are 2,500 clubs in 52 countries, and 76,000 members.  


Every Inner Wheel club has a corresponding Rotary club, but Inner Wheel is not in competition with Rotary. It is complementary. There is no attendance rule and clubs usually meet monthly. The meeting time is also the choice of the club, and many meet in the evening, as so many members are working wives in business or their chosen profession.  


When a new member is inducted into a club she is presented with an Inner Wheel badge, which is worn on her lapel just like a Rotary badge.  


If a member becomes a widow, she retains her full membership. And should a member have to move from her home town, either to a new town in some other country or overseas, her membership can be transferred to the club of her choice near to her new address.  


The friendship and world aspect of Inner Wheel is emphasized by exchange visits and letters between district clubs and members in different countries. Joint projects are also carried out, thereby creating understanding and goodwill. As in Rotary International, a member may visit an Inner Wheel club in any town or country of the world without invitation and be assured of a warm welcome.  


One of the greatest stories of International Inner Wheel is service depends on the community. In general the service they offer is directed mainly to minors, to children, youth, and elderly people. They also care about health and education, and they support community institutions as well as the Rotary club.  [Applause]  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you, Lucy. Lucy, I wonder if, after this program is over, you would linger here in the stage area and give any information that would be requested of you about contacting an Inner Wheel extension officer, if this is of interest, and that will save that question from coming from the mic­rophone later. Usha Saboo!  


Usha Saboo: We have very active Inner Wheel clubs as well as other organized Rotary wife groups functioning. In a developing country like India the tremendous services rendered by the Rotary wives are multi-dimensional and multi-directional, positive and useful, with particular concern for the welfare of women and children. There, we feel, women's hands and hearts are needed most. By giving a little of their time and attention, they are truly practicing the philosophy of caring and sharing. The Rotary Anns in my country are engaged in tirelessly improving the quality of life of their fellow human beings by patient and joyous work, goodness, and cheerfully accepting little sacrifices for the common good and a brighter future.  


They are reaching out to the needy in many ways. They share their eyes with the blind by reading and writing for them. They are sharing their hands, their feet, their time for the mentally retarded and physically handicapped. They share their good health and their blood with the sick in the hospitals. An emergency call from the blood bank, a sudden need for a particular blood group; and a Rotary Ann reaches the blood bank, and immediately donates her blood. The result is a precious life saved, and by her own example, she motivates many more. Slums and villages are "adopted" for complete devel­opment. The Rotary wives give their time for the unkept, unfed, uncared for children in the slums, teaching them health, hygiene, cleanliness, providing nutrition, holding education classes for them—for these children are the future of our country. Family planning is advised with great patience and attractive incentives for poor mothers.  


A youth who has run away from his home, frightened by leprosy symptoms, is accepted, adopted, treated, and rehabilitated by the Rotary wives. The wheel of service is rotating all over the country all the time. A fire in an apart­ment; Rotary Anns are first to arrive with their relief material. A flood in any part of the country; Rotary Anns stand up to work shoulder-to-shoulder with their Rotarian husbands. I believe that there is not a single problem that cannot be solved by caring, and the Rotary Anns in India are truly a blend of mother, friend, guide counselor, and nurse. They are keeping Rotary alive in the peoples' hearts.


I am sure Rotary needs us more than ever before in today's poverty and misery-stricken world. My friends, let us work with our Rotarian husbands, but stay invisible like foundations of a building not seen from outside and yet providing the shape to them. I am sure that we women in Rotary have a po­tential to make a difference. [Applause]  

[The panel discussion was interrupted to accommodate the schedule of speaker, Mrs. George Bush]  


Dorothy Dochterman: We certainly had a very special treat. I know you all enjoyed it.  


Well, as I was saying, the women of Rotary were commenting—the panelists were commenting on how the women in their areas, or their coun­tries are organized, and giving an illustration or two of some of their activities. We are going to ask now for our last panelist to comment on this, and, this is Lucy Soderstrom from Helsinki, Finland.  


Lucy Soderstrom: Thank you, Dorothy. [Applause] I just wanted to tell you that in my part of the world and in my country the wives of the Rotarians have their own clubs and informal clubs, and we just mostly work on a national basis. We have also Inner Wheel clubs. All those Rotary Anns and Inner Wheelers—they support the Rotary clubs in their own community, but in the Scandinavian countries, Inner Wheel members help, for instance, family planning in India, and they also are very active in helping Mother Teresa in her wonderful work. Thank you. [Applause]  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you, Lucy. Now, I would like to recognize some people from the floor.  


Voice from audience: I would like to know if the Rotary Anns and the Inner Wheel are basically the same and if there is any literature available, if you would like to start something?  


Dorothy Dochterman: You are from the U.S.A.? Voice: Yes.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. Would one of the panelists like to comment on that? Lucy.  


Lucy Imrie-Brown: Rotary Anns, I understand, are the wives of Rotarians. Some of them are organized into groups and some are not—but Inner Wheel is an organized association running on parallel lines to Rotary. Does that an­swer your question?  


Voice from audience: Do they have Inner Wheel in the United States?  


Lucy Imrie-Brown: Yes, there are several districts in the United States. In fact, three or four new districts have been formed this very year. I could give you the name of your nearest club, if you are interested.  


Voice: All right. I am in Illinois. Shall I come to you later? Lucy Imrie-Brown: Right. Voice: Thank you.  


Dorothy Dochterman: The Inner Wheel is very structured. They have district governors. They have international conventions; they just held one in Paris.  


Voice from audience: I am from Ottawa, Canada. When I told the ladies of our club that I was coming here, I asked them if they had any particular points they wanted to bring forward. They asked me to ask you ladies what the ladies of Inner Wheel and the Rotary Anns feel towards disarmament, and do we feel we should provide a united front in that area?  


Dorothy Dochterman: Would someone like to comment on that from the panel? Well, I think that the ladies on the panel have their own personal opinions, and their clubs and organizations have their personal opinion, and as a group they have not formed an opinion on questions as large as disarmament. I am sure that their main impact has been in service projects. [Applause]  


Voice from audience: Cecilia Dunlop, Napier, New Zealand. I would like to ask the panel if the Rotary Anns have an international organization or do they have an international object or project? We, in New Zealand, are fortu­nate in that we have Inner Wheel. Is it widespread?  


Dorothy Dochterman: Did you want that first question answered? Cecilia Dunlop: Yes.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Someone on the panel? Rotary Ann groups are not affiliated with each other. Rotary Ann groups are unique to a specific club. They are the wives of members in a specific club. They do not join together with other Rotary Ann groups.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Is there someone in the balcony? Do we have a lady in the balcony?  


Voice from audience: I am an Inner Wheeler, District 684. We would like to see jewelry of Inner Wheel being made in this country. Not a question. Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you.  


Voice from audience: My name is Bunty Money. I come from South Africa, Johannesburg. My husband is the incoming district governor of District 930. In our area every single Rotary Club has a Rotary Anns club. When we form a new club we automatically form an Anns club. We generally try to get the president's wife to be president of the Rotary Anns. Every year when our men have their annual conference, we have a specific day for Rotary Anns and we hold our own conference.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Do you have a question or a comment? That was it?  


Bunty Money: No. I just thought that others might be interested. In this way for every Rotarian who comes into Rotary, we get two people working.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Oh, wonderful. Thank you.  


Voice from audience: My name is Lourdes Escarcega, I am the wife of Florencio Escarcega of Mexico City. I would like to know if there is an Inner Wheel operating in the City of Mexico, and, if it is not operating, what has to be done to begin it?  


Dorothy Dochterman: Celia.  


Celia Giay: I will tell her that she must connect with the ladies of Mexico who know all about it. Dorothy Dochterman: Oh, fine. Thank you.  


Voice from audience: I am Flor Castelo, national president of the Inner Wheel Club of the Philippines. We hail President Stan McCaffrey for being the forward-looking, visionary leader who initiated these Ladies' Sessions. [Applause] He has won the love and admiration of all the Philippine Inner Wheel members. Since we held this ladies' session, we would be very happy if all the district governors of Rotary International would also include a ladies' session in their conventions—national conventions. [Applause]  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. I would like to ask the panel, What are the values and benefits that you have experienced as being one of the Women and Rotary? Celia?  


Celia Giay: Well, about Rotary, I can say: You gave me access to others. You showed me how to serve together and make a stranger a brother of mine. As a wife of a Rotarian, I have received many benefits as one of a couple working and serving the same ideals—a united family. I am the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, and wife of Rotarians. To share the Rotarian ideal gave us a great admiration for each other, taught us charity. A family of this type is suitable ground for the order of love to blossom. Friends everywhere—in the club, the city, in the country, in the world. Friends with different ambitions,different ideas and opinions, with different beliefs and languages, but all to­gether, united in friendship. Magic in the Rotarian ideal.  


And last, the most important benefit—having taught me to serve. Through my Rotarian husband, I have understood that the glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to serve, not to be served; to give, not to receive. For Rotary, its people, for having taught me that service is a way to thank God for all he has given us—for life, for love, for the bread we eat every day, for the smile that makes us happy, for the friendly hands that I see ahead and, together with mine, are disposed to service—for all these and many more benefits—I must say, Thank you, Rotary. [Applause]


Voice from audience: Sara Otto. My husband is a Rotarian from the Roseville, Minnesota, U.S.A. club, and I would like to urge all of the wives of Rotarians, if they have not already done so, by all means, to become a host mother for one of the Youth Exchange. It is a most rewarding and wonderful program, and very fulfilling to find yourself—for instance, who have been a mother of girls—to find a large six-foot son calling you "Mom." It is just a wonderful program. I would urge each of you to become a host mother.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. Next question.  


Voice from audience: May Fitzpatrick, Columbus, Ohio. I would like to ask Lucy Imrie-Brown if there is a minimum number of members one should have to form an Inner Wheel?  

Lucy Imrie-Brown: Yes. It is suggested that there are twelve members to start an Inner Wheel club.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you.  


Voice from audience: I am Martha Erickson from Monsey, New York, District 721. For those people who are looking for some information on Rotary Anns, we have a little bit in our booklet on how to form clubs. It is mainly a dictionary for Rotary Anns to understand Rotary lingo, and all proceeds from this book will go to The Rotary Foundation. It is called, "What In The World Is A Rotary Ann?"  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you.  


Voice from audience: Gloria Matherfrom District 644. Once again, I want to carry on with that international Youth Exchange, and—one comment—that I think it would be nice, to further our international relationships, when we open up our international convention, that we present our flags with international Youth Exchange students, rather than U.S. Boy Scouts. We have done it in the past, but this year we didn't. But it would be nice in the future to promote our program.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. Usha, would you tell us, from your part of the world in India, what you feel the values and benefits are that you have experienced as a wife of a Rotarian.  


Usha Saboo: Rotary has, as Celia said, given us friends in our country and all over the world and has also provided me and, I am sure, all the Rotary wives the opportunity to meet people from all professions. I think, if our husbands were not in Rotary, we would most often be meeting people from the same profession.  


And Rotary has given me an opportunity to come close to the less fortunate people of my country, my community. It has been rightly said that service is the rent we pay for a place on this earth—and I think I will prove to be a good tenant.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. In this international convention, I have met many women whose husbands are new Rotarians. Lucy Soderstrom, could you give us any advice for these women whose husbands recently joined Rotary?  


Lucy Sdderstrom: First of all, I would say that they should be interested in their husbands' work for Rotary. They should inquire, ask questions about it. You know, when you are a young Rotarian and the wife of a young Rotarian, you just don't know anything. But the more you get involved in it, the more you get to know. And it gives so, so much.  


I would say, during these years I have been involved in Rotary, it has given me so much. I have gotten so many people to know and so many friends all over the world—and I think all the ladies have already covered that—but, just • get involved. And know that your Rotary husband, he needs you, because he just couldn't do it without you. [Applause]  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. In conclusion, I would like to have just one more comment from each panelist, their observations of—well, just their observations—what they have thought of our discussion and other things, and their Rotary life. Celia?  


Celia Giay: Woman work for understanding and peace through Rotary, giving maternal care and advice to students far from home, participating in the 3-H Program, serving with their husband, serving at all times, helping Rotary dreams become reality with their support and service; building bridges of un­derstanding, beginning at home, in the community, and at a meeting like this in which we meet the people from all over the world. This is a wonderful oppor­tunity to become better acquainted, to get closer, to understand and to love each other. Mankind is one, and I am completely sure that this is the way—as President Stan has asked—to build World Understanding and Peace Through Rotary.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. Lucy?  


Lucy Imrie-Brown: I would like to suggest that a women's group is most successful when it changes friendship into fellowship that leads to service. [Applause]  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. Usha?  


Usha Saboo: I would like to repeat that we have had a great opportunity provided to us to know more about other countries, what is happening, and to tell very briefly what happens in our part of our country, and I hope we will continue to have such programs at other conventions.  


Dorothy Dochterman: Thank you. Lucy?  


Lucy Soderstrom: I would also go back to the Youth Exchange. Rotary wives have some wonderful opportunities for serving, by supporting the Rotary Foundation programs of Youth Exchange and Group Study teams, a way to World Understanding and Peace Through Rotary. [Applause]


Dorothy Dochterman: My observation is that service projects are determined by the culture and character of your country. I hope you have enjoyed this morning. I certainly want us all to thank President Stan for giving us a women's program at long last. [Applause]

From the Dallas Convention proceedings

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