Duhallow Women’s Forum Celebrating 23 Years in 2020.
IRD Duhallow Women’s Forum, established in 1997, plays an important role in improving the quality of life for women in Duhallow. This includes improving women’s access to education, training and personal development in preparation for employment, in supporting women who are undertaking entrepreneurial activity and supporting women’s advancement in their employment, including into decision making roles. The Women’s Forum, made up of 17 women’s groups in Duhallow, has provided women with an opportunity to share information and ideas as a collective, this collaboration and networking has successfully built confidence and empowered the participants to engage as active and equal citizens.
It is affiliated to the National Women’s Council, which is an umbrella organisation for women’s groups in Ireland and represents some 180 women’s groups. This allows the forum to link in and work with the NWCI in determining its core priorities and be involved in decision-making levels at local, national and international level.
This Forum is a network of 17 women’s groups in the Duhallow Region who have come together “to share information, exchange ideas and undertake joint projects”. It is committed to enhancing honest non tokenistic representation of women in Duhallow and brings together existing organisations such as the ICA with groups like Parent and Toddler Groups, Childcare Groups and Duhallow Carers.
The Forum is open to all interest groups to participate and as a representative the role is to channel information from their group and community to the forum and back. It is very much a two way process. The forum focuses on combating disadvantage and social inclusion. It is funded through the SICAP Programme and acts as an advocate for women of all ages and backgrounds in Duhallow.
The forum aims to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the role of women in Duhallow. Over the years, the forum has held numerous conferences, seminars, workshops and courses that addressed the needs and issues affecting women in Duhallow. The Forum helps to ensure that women in rural areas have access to these events and are not disadvantaged due to their geographic location or education. Topics that the forum has covered in conferences and courses have always come from the member groups with the forum promoting the bottom up approach to community development. These topics have ranged from personal development and computer courses to women’s health, pensions and entitlements, to flower arranging and courses preparing women to return to employment.
Since its establishment the Duhallow Women’s Forum has made a significant contribution to the region including numerous seminars and conferences and in particular the production of a calendar in 2004 in honour of 12 notable and distinguished women from the Duhallow region. The impact of this Calendar has resulted in 4 monuments being erected in honour of these women in the region and more planned for the future. An information booklet was also produced detailing information of the lives of each of these notable and distinguished women. Click here to view this publication. (This booklet is in the publications section)
IRD Duhallow has also supported a number of older women to volunteer in the community setting including with Bereavement Support Service and our Domestic Violence Service.
Women for Change Project
The Duhallow Women’s Forum actively collaborated with the National Women’s Council of Ireland on the national ‘Women for Change’ Project. The aim of the project was to bring a diversity of women who were involved or were interested in getting more involved in representation and participation in their local communities together, to access training, peer support and advocate for women’s equality and social change. This project provided women with the necessary skills and analysis to have their voices heard, build their confidence and expertise in their project work and community work for the benefit of local communities.
IRD Duhallow hosted two workshops as part of this project. These included a workshop on Influencing Policy Change in January 2019, which covered how policy works and how we can influence it. The second workshop looked at Effective Committees and Negotiation Skills. This was a practical workshop which helped participants understand how successful committees work and will help provide the participants with guidance to ensure that their committee is productive, inclusive and cordial.
In May 2019, a Women and Local Elections workshop was held to explore the current issues for women in Duhallow prior to the Local and European elections. The Workshop covered topics such as what women want from local councils in the local area; an explanation of the current state of representation; the role of local councillors and the issues that should they deal with? How can we make our local councils more accountable to women; how to engage with candidates on the doorstep. These workshops gave women in Duhallow an opportunity to learn skills in leadership, lobbying, campaigning and influencing policy.
Following this project, the NWCI launched a resource for women’s groups and women working for social change and equality at local level. This resource can be accessed by clicking here.
For more information on the Duhallow Women’s Forum and details of upcoming meetings please keep an eye on our monthly newsletter or contact 029-60633.