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Loss of EU funding has devastating consequences for women’s sector in Northern Ireland

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Image: Nuala Toman of Disability NI address the NWC All-island Women's Forum

The All-Island Women’s Forum met today in Monaghan for its second in person meeting of 2023. Today's session heard presentations from leading women’s community sector organisations on the impact of funding cuts on the women’s sector across the island. Forum members discussed practical ways that the Forum can use its all-island platform to elevate the issues created by funding gaps.   

Rachel Coyle, NWC Head of Campaigns and Mobilisation said:  

‘Underinvestment in the community development sector and local women’s organisations have exacerbated social exclusion across the island. Years of underinvestment has significantly diminished organisations’ capacity for collective action, political analysis and for grassroots development that can address the persistent inequalities in local communities and support women’s representation and participation.    

 Recent announcements of the halted EU funding has had a devastating effect on women’s sector groups in the North.  The package announced by the UK government is not adequate to compensate for the loss of EU funding, meaning that women’s participation and representation in civic life is severely compromised.  

The loss of EU funding has led to the closure of several women’s centres and schemes, negatively impacting some of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Governments must recognise the role women and women’s groups continue to play in the wider community and voluntary sector and in the social fabric of communities, and resource them accordingly’.   

The Forum today prioritised two areas of work exploring the development of an all-island approach. Those are increasing women’s representation in peace building and reconciliation, and political and civic life, and deepening north south relations.  

Women’s voices continue to be marginalised in peace building and decision-making forums. The All-Island Women’s Forum seeks to address this by hosting a platform of 40 members with equal membership from the north and south.  

Building on the space and relationships established in the forum over past two years, the 2023 project creates opportunity for deeper cooperation and dialogue on an all-island basis.  Today’s meeting agreed the workplan for the Forum, formalising a strategy that will create tangible outcomes to be reported on later in the year. 

The Forum brings together women’s groups and activists to examine issues and areas of commonality North and South.  This project seeks to bring women together to continue creating better understanding, providing a platform for dialogue and developing collaborative understandings of our shared island challenges and opportunities for progressive and peaceful social change.   


For comment: Rachel Coyle 

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator on sineadn@nwci.ie 

About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie