Rotary Club Nijmegen Zuid

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The first Irish clubs discussed admitting women as members in 1912, but the proposal foundered over issues of social class. Gender equity in Rotary moved beyond the theoretical question when in 1976, the Rotary Club of Duarte in Duarte, California, admitted three women as members. After the club refused to remove the women from membership, Rotary International revoked the club's charter in 1978. The Duarte club filed suit in the California courts, claiming that Rotary Clubs are business establishments subject to regulation under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnic origin. Rotary International then appealed the decision to the U. S. Supreme Court. The RI attorney argued that ". . . [the decision] threatens to force us to take in everyone, like a motel". The Duarte Club was not alone in opposing RI leadership; the Seattle-International District club unanimously voted to admit women in 1986. The United States Supreme Court, on 4 May 1987, confirmed the Californian decision supporting women, in the case Board of Directors, Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte. Rotary International then removed the gender requirements from its requirements for club charters, and most clubs in most countries have opted to include women as members of Rotary Clubs. The first female club president to be elected was Silvia Whitlock of the Rotary Club of Duarte, California in 1987. By 2007, there was a female trustee of Rotary's charitable wing The Rotary Foundation while female district governors and club presidents were common.

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