Advancing Gender Equality with Rotary

Advancing Gender Equality with Rotary

Box Hill Central Rotary Club is leading the way for Rotary clubs across Victoria in the development and application of a gender equality framework.

Rotary is a world-wide network of 1.4 million members that are working towards creating a better world for people. There are 1100 clubs in Australia with approximately 30,000 members. Even though Rotary Clubs were established in 1905, it was not until 1989 when women were permitted to join. Since 2010, women in Australia are joining Rotary at approximately the same rate as men. However, unlike the male recruits, women are not staying on as and members and there are less women at leadership levels. To encourage leadership, inclusion retention of women as members, Rotary Club Box Hill Central (RCBHC) partnered with healthAblity, a local community health service, to undertake a project that will address two gendered drivers of violence against women.

These are:

  1. Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life and
  2. Rigid gender stereotyping and dominant forms of masculinity.

By ensuring greater gender equality in Rotary clubs, it is anticipated that it will also support gender equality in the local community.

For this pilot project a co-design process was undertaken to develop a gender equality framework for RCBHC to showcase what is being done well and what can be done to strengthen activities towards gender equality. The initial work of building a solid partnership and progressing the work took time due to gender equality and prevention of violence against women not being well understood by club members. This challenge was overcome by arranging capacity building workshops on gender equality and having meetings with the leadership on what the work should look like.

Once a good partnership was established between the two organisations, the advance gender reference group was created for the codesign process. The group consisted of seven members, consisting of both men and women that would meet regularly to develop the framework.

The framework has been shaped by Rotary International’s Framework for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, informed by the Rotary Club Box Hill Central Gender Equality Advocacy Group and reflects a whole of club approach.

This framework is designed to be practical. It consists of four critical aspects (Communication, Governance – Strategic planning and leadership, Membership and participation, Projects and events) of a club’s operations and identifies best practice benchmarks that clubs can strengthen towards gender equality. The next step in the process is to pilot with RCBHC. healthAbility will continue to lead and support the project throughout the pilot phase.

Once piloted, the learnings, experience and resources will be shared with other Rotary Clubs within the cluster or district to further support gender equality across all clubs through Rotary club networks.

For more information about the pilot project please contact Sulochana Colombage or visit the Rotary Club Box Hill Central website.

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