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Rotary International
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Rotary International

Rotary International is an international organisation of service clubs. Members are known as Rotarians.

The world's first service club, the first Rotary Club was founded in 1905 in Chicago by attorney Paul Harris. It has since spread to 166 countries and now claims 1.2 million members in 31,000 clubs.

Membership is by invitation, to professionals working in a specific area of endeavour. The goal of the clubs is to promote service to the community they work in, as well as to the wider world. Many projects are organised for the local community by a single club, but some are organised globally. The most notable current global project is contributing to the global eradication of polio.

Members of a specific club meet weekly for dinner, which as well as serving as a time to organise work on their service goals, is a social event.

Rotary is generally regarded as a politically conservative organisation with its membership tending towards the middle-aged and wealthy. Women were admitted (after years of debate) in 1989, and make up a little under 10% of the membership. Previously, they were able to join a linked organization for the wives and daughters of Rotarians, the Inner Wheel. Many Inner Wheel groups still exist.

Another visible program of Rotary is its organisation of student exchange programs for students in secondary education.

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