Empowering 1,000 marginalised women into sustained and secure employment

On October 3rd 2019 Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development announced the six successful Awardee recipients of the inaugural Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The announcement was made by Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD at a special event held in Smock Alley in Dublin. The €1.8 million Fund is the first of its kind in Ireland to support charitable and social enterprise organisations that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women, by investing in organisations that provide training, upskilling, work experience, education and other services directly to disadvantaged women.

The six inspiring Awardees, which include projects that support single-parent women, refugees
and transgender women were chosen from over 70 applications. 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:

• Women’s Education Programme (An Cosán VVC): 
Women’s Education Programme offers -women marginalised from the workforce, a
flexible part-time education through a blended learning model of online lectures and in-
person workshops.

• 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.

• Here Comes the Girls (Westmeath Community Development)
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.

• 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.

• 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.

• Super Women (Transgender Equality Network Ireland)
Super Women addresses the inequality and inaccessibility of the labour market for
transgender women.

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. Dublin based employees of Bank of America will be part of the mentoring team and they will also provide further tailored training to the successful
organisations. 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. 

Announcing the winners, Minister of State, Seán Canney, TD, said, “I’m delighted to join Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Bank of America in announcing the six Awardees for the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The Department of Rural and Community Development is also very proud to be a partner of this fantastic initiative which is co-funded through the Dormant Accounts Funds. I want to wish them all the very best for their future endeavours and I look forward to seeing the even greater things they will achieve with the support of Social Innovation Fund Ireland and Bank of America.”

Anne Finucane, Chairman, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe and Vice Chairman,
Bank of America, said: “We are delighted to be part of this new Fund and look forward to
working with the Awardees to support 1,000 women of Ireland into employment over the next
three years. 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.”

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 to enable them to fulfil their potential and lead more secure, successful lives.

Nuala Keher, Joint Executive Director for EQUAL Ireland said, “We’re over the moon to be an awardee of this fantastic fund. This announcement means that EQUAL Ireland will reach a critical mass that should result in real positive change, not only for EQUAL Ireland, as an organisation, but perhaps more importantly, for the development and increased participation of hundreds of women in leadership roles in Ireland’s communities, as we say ‘Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices’.