These 6 female-led projects have been awarded the €1.8 million Women of Ireland Fund

The €1.8 million Women of Ireland Fund has been given to projects supporting single-parent women, refugees and transgender women


Women all over Ireland are doing incredible work for their communities, day in and day out. This week, some of them were rewarded with the €1.8 million 'Mná na hÉireann', Women of Ireland Fund.

The fund, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, is named after Mary Robinson’s iconic speech in 1990. During this speech, the former president highlighted Irish women's continuing fight for equality. "As well as our emigrants abroad, we have exiles at home," she said. "The poor, the sick, the old, the unemployed, and above all, the women of Ireland who are still struggling on the long march to equality and equity.

"To all those who have no voice or whose voice is weak I say: take heart. There is hope."

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Mary Robinson, photo from RTÉ ArchivesMary Robinson, photo from RTÉ Archives

In honour of that speech, Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) launched the 'Mná na hÉireann' fund to help 1,000 women secure employment; as well as enhance the economic mobility of women across the country.

What's more, it will support charitable and social enterprise organisations providing training, upskilling, work experience, education and other services directly to disadvantaged women.

The €1.8 million was raised in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Women of Ireland Fund Mna na hEireannAnne Finucane (Bank of America), Nuala Smith (Dress For Success) and Deirdre Mortell (Social Innovation Fund Ireland)

Six inspiring awardees

On Thursday, the six inspiring awardees were announced at Smock Alley in Dublin. They include projects that support single-parent women, refugees and transgender women – all of whom were chosen from over 70 applications.

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SIFI says each submission went through a rigorous application and interview process to ensure they met the criteria and high standards set out for the Fund and its Awardees.

The six successful Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Awardees are:

1. Women’s Education Programme (An Cosán VVC)

Women’s Education Programme offers a flexible part-time education to women marginalised from the workforce. The programme does this through a blended learning model of online lectures and in-person workshops.

2. Dress for Success Dublin

Dress for Success Dublin gives individuals ongoing access to skilled recruitment professionals and educational programmes to equip them with the skills and confidence to partake in the economic opportunities available to them.

3. Here Comes the Girls (Westmeath Community Development)

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Here Comes the Girls works by pre-empting potential skills demands of local employers and offering employers bespoke training and recruitment opportunities to meet their staffing needs, while also equipping local women with the skills required to perform these jobs and enter employment.

4. Integration from Day One (Irish Refugee Council)

Integration from Day One supports refugee women in Ireland from the earliest stages of the asylum process to build opportunities and skills to successfully integrate and find their place in the labour market.

5. Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices (EQUAL Ireland)

Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices provides blended learning to women living in rural areas, combining workshops, a co-operative learning environment, online and outreach delivery, in partnership with communities.

6. Super Women (Transgender Equality Network Ireland)

Super Women addresses the inequality and inaccessibility of the labour market for transgender women.

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Women of Ireland Fund Mna na hEireann

Speaking at the event, Anne Finucane (Vice Chairman, Bank of America) said, "Today, women make up more than half of our global workforce and we are steadfast in bringing forward conversations about gender, race and social equality to the business.

"We work to effect meaningful, lasting positive change to the communities in which we operate and serve and are incredibly proud to be part of this initiative."

Meanwhile, Deirdre Mortell (CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland) said, "We are thrilled to announce a wonderfully diverse range of Awardees supporting women who are often found to be furthest from the labour market – trans women, refugees, lone parents, women in rural areas and more.

"This €1.8 million fund will support these organisations to scale and deepen their impact across the country. Our goal is not only to empower these women into sustained employment, but also to enable them to fulfil their potential and lead more secure, successful  lives.''

In addition to grant funding, the six successful awardees will also receive a place on an Accelerator Programme, which includes bespoke training and mentoring by experts from across the private, non-profit and public sector. The Accelerator Programme is specifically designed to equip charities and social enterprises with the skills to expand their business knowledge, drive growth and strengthen their impact across Ireland.

Photos: Marc O’Sullivan

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