Ruth Holdaway

Leading UK charity Women in Sport is delighted to announce that departing Chief Executive Ruth Holdaway has been awarded an MBE for services to gender equality in sports.

Ruth has led the charity for the last five and a half years, campaigning for an increase in female leadership across the sports sector and equal opportunities for women and girls to participate in sport. She is now heading to Australia to take up the role of Chief Executive for Tennis Victoria.

Ruth joined Women in Sport in 2013, leading a transformational rebrand of the charity and bringing significant impact to the sports sector and the lives of women and girls. Championing Women in Sport’s Beyond 30% campaign, Ruth was instrumental in securing a requirement for all Sports Governing Bodies to have a minimum of 30% women on their boards – a milestone in sports governance.

Ruth has also supported hundreds of sports organisations in developing new programmes for women and girls thanks to the charity’s research, insight and advice service. She has overseen successful projects run by the charity in partnership with other organisations, such as Get Out Get Active, Daughters and Dads and Project 51, which are changing lives for women and girls who face even bigger challenges than most, whether it be living with a disability or growing up in poverty.

Through the millions of pounds raised from grant and corporate supporters Women in Sport has shown the positive social impact that is achieved when women and girls are empowered through sport. Ruth’s award recognises her individual contribution to this, which has been led by her unwavering determination and passion to achieve gender equality in sport.

Ruth Holdaway said:  

“As I move to a new role leading a Sport’s Governing Body and preparing to tackle gender inequality in the sports sector from within, I want to thank the many supporters, donors and friends who have helped the charity over my time as Chief Executive.

“The landscape for women’s sport in the UK has changed dramatically since I started in this role, and I am immensely proud of what Women in Sport have contributed to driving that positive change. More and more sports organisations are getting serious about promoting women in their workforce and creating a more sophisticated and relevant offer for women and girls to play sport.”

Jayne Haines, Chair of Women in Sport added:

“I would like to thank Ruth for the energy and commitment she has given to improving the experience of sport and fitness for women and girls across the country. She has built strong foundations for Women in Sport to continue our mission of striving to change the culture of the sector so that every woman and girl in the UK can experience the lifelong benefits of sport. There is however still a long way to go. If you would like to help, please donate today at www.womeninsport.org.uk.”

The increase in the number of talented sportswomen on this Queen’s Birthday Honours List is a great indicator of the growth of women’s sport. With an exciting summer of world-class female sporting events ahead, the increased visibility of women’s sport in media coverage and more high-profile female sporting role models should lead to further nominations for future rounds.