‘Framing the Future’ : An integrated strategy to support women’s community and voluntary organisatio
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2001
Gráinne Healy, National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) Chairwoman, thanked Mary Wallace TD,Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, for launching the Framing the Future Report. She also thanked the other speakers and went on to explain that Framing the Future is a research study commissioned by the NWCI and conducted by Kelleher Associates. The brief of the study was to investigate the number and activities of women's community and voluntary organisations in Ireland and to identify a strategy for supporting this sector. 'The national database compiled for the study indicates that there are 2,631 women's organisations in the 26 counties of Ireland. These organisations cater for up to 75,000 women annually' declared Ms. Healy. '79% of locally based and community women's groups and 65% of women's organisations and projects generally, operate on less than £1,000 per annum' she continued. 'There is a clear and urgent need for a defined strategy by the Government to provide realistic funding for these organisations and groups, many of which are providing vital counselling, support and crisis services for women' stated Ms. Healy. 'We are calling on Minister Wallace today to lobby her cabinet colleagues to support the vital work of women's groups' she added.
'Women's organisations engage in a wide variety of activities, meeting important social, educational and support needs in the lives of local women and play a vibrant and invaluable role in the broader community' said Ms. Healy. 'Women's groups serve the needs of a diverse range of women including urban women, women living in rural areas, disabled women, women experiencing violence, lone parents, lesbians, minority ethnic women, Traveller women, widows and older women' she declared. Ms. Healy pointed to the fact that the number of organisations in the sector has increased significantly in the last 10 years, with 43 per cent of organisations established in the last five years and 60 per cent established in the last 10 years. If the guilds of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) are excluded, 76 per cent of organisations were established between 1990 and 2000.
'The publication of Framing the Future poses a challenge to the NWCI and the Government to take note of the needs of women's groups and support their work' stated Ms. Healy. 'The NWCI intends to respond to this challenge by supporting this sector of women's groups to achieve the levels of funding they require to build their organisational capacity in providing services and supports to so many women at grassroots level' she added.
'We expect the Government, to respond by creating a budget line, which is accessible to local women's groups and to support the NWCI to build the capacity of the sector through the creation of a support unit for women's groups' concluded Ms. Healy.
The major findings of Framing the Future.
There are 2,631 women's organisations in the 26 counties of Ireland;
- 79% of locally-based/community women's groups and 65% of women's organisations/projects generally operate on less than £1,000 per annum;
- Women's organisations engage in a wide variety of activities, meeting important social, educational and support needs in the lives of local women;
- Women's organisations play a vibrant and invaluable role in the broader community;
- The majority of women's organisations are seriously under-funded and lack resources;
- A defined scheme of assistance for women's groups needs to be established by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs;
- A programme of cross-departmental funding must be established for women's organisations;
- The NWCI should establish a technical support unit for women's groups;
- The NWCI should lobby for greater resources for the sector;
- The NWCI should have a greater regional presence.