Skip links

Club Member Hilary Ratcliffe awarded OBE for Promoting Gender Equality

Mrs Hilary Ratcliffe OBE Web

Soroptimist International (SI) Programme Director, and member of SI St Albans and District, Hilary Ratcliffe, has been made an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) in the UK Honours List , for services to “promoting Gender Equality Overseas”.  Hilary Ratcliffe is pictured here collecting her OBE from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on 21 Nov 2014.

After the excitement of the day Hilary said “It was a lovely day – a very very special day – I am so proud. The ceremony at Buckingham Palace is perfect. Meeting Prince Charles and having travelled to Sierra Leone I was able to talk about the wonderful work Soroptimist International is doing there and we agreed on the horror of the current ebola crisis. The day was a celebration – not just for me but for the work of so many of the women who work so hard as volunteer Members of my organisation.”

A Soroptimist since 1980, Hilary lives in Harpenden and is an active member of the St Albans and District Club. She has been Club President, Regional President, Chair of the Soroptimist UK Programme Action CommitteeSI Great Britain and Ireland Federation Assistant Programme Director for Education, Federation Programme Director and has been International Programme Director since 2011 – a post that will have it’s grand finale at the SI Convention in Istanbul in 2015.

Alongside her voluntary work as International Programme Director, Hilary is active in her local Harpenden community, she works as a freelance tour guide in London and the South East of England; she is a trained City of London Guide, Blue Badge Guide and St Albans City Guide. Before this, she spent many years as a teacher of history in secondary schools and further education colleges and was also responsible for providing pastoral support and personal and social education to sixth form students.

Hilary has inspired countless Soroptimists around the world to get involved in local, national and international projects to improve the lives of women and girls.

As International Programme Director, Hilary leads Soroptimist International’s advocacy and policy work at the UN and other international forums, speaking up for women and girls and representing the voices of around 80,000 Soroptimists in 130 countries and territories worldwide. She provides guidance and inspiration for thousands of on-the-ground Soroptimist projects to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls, helping to share good practice across the world, while developing global policies and position statements based on the experience of Soroptimists worldwide.

Here are some of the tributes:

“This is a wonderful accolade for you, for your commitment to this cause and for the work undertaken by the International Programme Team”, writes International President Ann Garvie in a message of congratulation.

“When Hilary takes to the stage at conferences, Soroptimists are moved to get up and do something to change the world”, says SI’s Head of Programme and Advocacy, Reilly Dempsey. “She is truly an agent of change, working both behind the scenes and in the public domain to improve the lives of women and girls all over the world”.

SIGBI President Margaret Oldroyd, said, “It is a fitting tribute to your unstinting hard work and the leadership which you have given to our members over many years at all levels of Soroptimism. The fact that so many members from so many countries contributed enthusiastically to the supporting papers shows in what very high regard and affection you are held across the Soroptimist world. I know that you will be delighted with the citation which emphasises your long held passion for gender equality for all women. On behalf of the Federation, thank you for all that you do and continue to do to improve the lives of women and girls. We are so proud of you and hope that you and your family enjoy an extremely well deserved celebration when you go to the Palace.”

Hilary was also able to celebrate with Members of her Soroptimist Club, SI St Albans & District earlier this year