By Christoph Ahlmann-Eltze, president of the Rotary Club of Bordesholm, Germany
Our club chartered 10 years ago, and from the very start, equality between the genders has been a priority. We alternate between a male member and a female member serving as club president every year, and we make sure that men and women have equal rights and responsibilities. This has not always been the case in clubs in my part of the world. But if we are to move forward as an organization, this will need to become more of the norm. Here is more of our club’s story.
I have only been a member of the club five years, but my fellow club members have filled me in on how it all began with us. In our neighborhood, there were two Rotary clubs, one that had chartered back in 1951, and a newer club that formed in 1999. Neither club had any women members. Some women who were interested in Rotary got together and decided they were not interested in joining the Inner Wheel club (clubs in some regions that were intended for wives of male Rotary members.) So they set out to form a new club.
With the help of ten male members, these eight women founded the Rotary Club of Bordesholm on 30 June, 2008. From the start, they determined club responsibilities would be shared equally between men and women. So our first president was Andrea, the second was Werner, the third Angelika and then Peter, Claudia, Holger, Almut, Klaus, Stefanie, Knut and Annegret. My president-elect will be Minu and I am proud to be a friend of all these wonderful Rotarians in our small club of 34.
When you attend one of our meetings, it’s lively and open-minded. Our families support our service in Rotary. We have added two young women and two men in the past two years, and my task is to bring in three more this year. The other day, I spoke to a prospective member, who is a family life-coach, and he was awestruck by our club. He noted there was still a club in the area he knew that was male-only, and noted, “they are running out of time.”
I am so grateful for the balance and inclusivity of our club, which gives us the strength we need to work together on truly “hands-on” projects like our Apel-Fest. Recently, we completed a successful global grant application for a project in Latvia, and the energy that brings to our club is wonderful. I am so proud to serve as a Rotarian. As I experienced at the wonderful Rotary International Convention here in Hamburg, more and more clubs are realizing the benefit of pursuing diversity and inclusion.
Strengthen your membership and increase your club’s capacity to serve by taking the Building a Diverse Club course in the Learning Center.