There is no shortage of need, and the impact of even simple projects can be significant when the power of Rotary is focused on empowering girls. 

RI director


In his address to the Rotary International Convention in June 2021, Shekhar Mehta urged Rotary members to put improving girls’ futures at the forefront of their work. “It is important that we empower girls,” said Mehta, who was shortly to take office as the 2021-22 Rotary president, “as we all find that more often than not, the girl is disadvantaged. We will serve all children, but our laser focus will be specially on the girl.”

Mehta made empowering girls one of his presidential initiatives, and his focus is particularly timely. Women continue to face economic hurdles, declining levels of political participation, and challenges in the workplace, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. And the COVID-19 pandemic is among the factors that have extended the amount of time that experts estimate it will take to close the gender gap from an already daunting 99.5 years to 135.6 years.

“Especially for girls, creating opportunities that enhance their education, safety, health, and well-being has the power to transform their futures — and also to transform their families and communities,” says Elizabeth Usovicz, a member of the RI Board of Directors. “Rotary members worldwide can make a difference in transforming communities by empowering girls.”

Usovicz is also the chair of the Empowering Girls Task Force, which was established as part of Mehta’s initiative. And within zones and regions, Rotary has designated Empowering Girls ambassadors who can provide resources for districts and clubs and suggest ways to incorporate support for girls into existing projects or make it the basis for new ones.

“The Empowering Girls initiative is a club- and district-level service opportunity,” Usovicz notes. “The primary role of the task force is to develop a framework and resources that enhance the ability of Rotary and Rotaract club members and leaders, as well as district leaders, to participate in and promote service projects that focus on the health, education, safety, well-being, and economic development of the girls of our world.”

The task force members will also ensure that the RI directors and the new Empowering Girls ambassadors are kept informed, advocate for and monitor global engagement with the initiative and the impact of related projects, and make certain that Rotary members worldwide are aware of the initiative and understand how to participate.