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Rethink Ireland

$1m community fund to help Irish women access upskilling opportunities

by Blathnaid O’Dea

13 OCT 2023

The funding will go towards measures such as new laptops and online and hybrid skills programmes to assist marginalised women to access employment.

Rethink Ireland is investing in a fresh fund that aims to encourage women in Ireland to seek out educational and professional opportunities. The fund, called the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Empowerment Fund, will see five Irish non-profits share in a total of $1m in funding. The non-profits that were awarded funding all work with women who face barriers when it comes to entering the labour force.

Overall, the five charities are aiming to help at least 800 women. They are providing tech and tech-focused upskilling opportunities for those who need them. For example, Jobcare, a charity based in Dublin city, is going to use the funds to deliver Jobnet, a programme that offers in-person and online training for women who face socioeconomic barriers to employment. Jobnet is a hybrid, practical model that Jobcare hopes will help participants hone their digital and soft skills in line with a competitive employment market. The charity has been in operation since 1994.

Non-profit One Family plans to run a 12-week self-directed, online personal development programme specifically designed for parents. The project will focus on lone mothers who have access to this platform, supporting them with additional mentoring.

And Cork-based charity Saoirse Ethnic Hands on Deck, which was founded by migrant women living in direct provision, will use some of the funding to buy four laptops and licenses for multimedia use. They will use these to provide comprehensive career training for migrant women.

The other two charities that benefitted from Rethink Ireland’s funding injection are Equal Ireland and Meath Travellers’ Workshops. Equal Ireland is a non-profit charitable trust formed in 2001 by a collaboration involving IBEC, SIPTU, FAS and Lionra, a higher education network. The group brings third-level education to people who previously missed the opportunity to gain a degree or higher level of study.

Meath Travellers’ Workshops is a Traveller-led charity that brings together Travellers and settled people to work on community betterment while learning about Traveller culture.

Commenting on the funding news, Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland said: “There can be no equality without equality for women. The Mná na hÉireann Empowerment Fund is dedicated to empowering women who are experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage and marginalisation. It is critical that we enable this group of women through education and employment, to change not only their lives but also the lives of their families. Moving women out of poverty and into decent work is the one-generation solution to poverty. This is the focus of the five non-profit organisations announced today.”

The fund is a continuation of an existing partnership Rethink Ireland has with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland. This most recent commitment brings the total fund investment to €3.2m. Previously, Rethink Ireland has funded projects tackling digital poverty in schools and it has also teamed up with TikTok to back digital skills projects targeting young people.

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