Hilary Ratcliffe OBE, Gender Equality Campaigner
First Posted On The Herts. Hidden Heroines Project Website: 9th July 2016
Hilary Ratcliffe was made an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) in the UK Honours List 2014, for services “promoting Gender Equality Overseas”.
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 Committee, SI 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 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 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.
“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