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Hilary Ratcliffe OBE for Promoting Gender Equality

Hilary Ratcliffe, was made an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) in the UK Honours List 2014, 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 was an active member of the St Albans and District Club until 2017 when she moved and transferred to the Sheffield 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 Soroptimist International (SI) Programme Director 2011 – 2015.

Alongside her voluntary work as a Soroptimist, Hilary is active in her local 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 led 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 provided 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 when she got news of her award

To celebrate the centenary of Soroptimist International in 2021 more than 100 Soroptimists were selected to be commemorated as part of the #WhoIsShe? Campaign – including Hilary Ratcliffe OBE.   The centenary of the organisation seemed a fitting opportunity to recognise and celebrate the professional and personal commitments made by these outstanding members through the years. These #WhoIsShe? campaign members, both past and present, from Soroptimist International of Soroptimist International 100 LogoGreat Britain and Ireland have all been nominated by Soroptimist Clubs for their noteworthy contribution to society in the furtherance of the aims and objects of the organisation. For more see

Hilary was showcased in April 2021 www,