When you give to The Rotary Foundation, you can be completely confident that your fellow Rotarians put those donations to work on life-changing projects in our six areas of focus. That confidence should inspire our continued support, especially when we consider the remarkable results.
In March, as we observe Water and Sanitation Month, let's take a closer look at how Rotarian-led projects are providing millions of people with access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities. This area of focus has long been high on many Rotarians' service agendas, and for good reason – 663 million people do not have access to clean water, and one-third of the world's population live without access to a toilet.
Think about how different life would be if you had to spend hours each day fetching water or worry about the threat of dysentery, cholera, Guinea worm, and a host of other waterborne diseases.
Our efforts in providing clean water have far-reaching effects. An estimated 10,000 clubs participate in water- and sanitation-related projects, with strong support from our Foundation. In 2015-16 alone, The Rotary Foundation provided $19 million for global grants in this area of focus.
And that's just one of the six critically important issues that our Foundation is addressing today. In 2015-16, our Foundation provided $76 million for all global grants, which also fight disease, save mothers and children, promote peace, support education, and provide economic opportunities to many people worldwide. Your gifts are what make this good work possible.
Our Foundation was conceived in 1917 to "do good in the world, " and that is exactly what it has been doing for 100 years. To celebrate this milestone, I encourage all Rotarians to consider making a special centennial contribution to ensure that we continue our urgent and transformational work throughout the world.
Forty years ago, the Rotary Club of Duarte, Calif., admitted three women members, in violation of the Rotary International Constitution. As a result, the club's charter was terminated by RI.
Undeterred, the club's members continued to meet. They put an X over their Rotary insignia, made themselves new pins, and dubbed themselves the Ex-Rotary Club of Duarte as they continued to fight for the right of women to serve as Rotarians. Ten years later, a restored Rotary Club of Duarte sent Sylvia Whitlock, Rotary's first female club president, to a presidents-elect training seminar. Not long after that, in 1989, Rotary's Council on Legislation permanently ended Rotary's status as a men-only organization.
Today, with more than 240,000 women in our clubs, Rotary is stronger than ever. We are women and men from nearly every country of the world, serving our communities in more than 35,000 clubs. At the club level, we need men and women of all backgrounds, ages, cultures, and professions; internationally, we need clubs in every city, country, and region of the world. The better our clubs reflect their communities, the better we can serve them. Our diversity is our strength.
It is difficult for most of us to imagine today why anyone argued so strongly against the idea of women in Rotary. Looking back, I think that opposition came from a simple resistance to change. Rotarians loved Rotary the way it was and couldn't imagine it any other way.
We still love Rotary as much as we ever did. We love the friendships and connections we make there, and the ability Rotary provides us to serve humanity. We believe Rotary has tremendous value in our own lives and in the world at large. And we recognize, more than ever, that for Rotary to continue to grow, it needs to embrace the world it serves – in all of its diversity, all of its variety, and all of its evolving needs for service.
The Rotarians of today owe a debt of gratitude to the Rotarians of Duarte 40 years ago. Their determination, persistence, and enduring goodwill set the stage for the organization we have become: Rotary Serving Humanity.
RCBSP sharing news from Rotary International and Rotary Districts and Clubs in Malaysia