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National Women’s Council Announces All-Island Women’s Forum Members

Published: Thursday, July 22, 2021

The National Women’s Council (NWC) today announced the All-Island Women’s Forum participants, consisting of 28 members, 14 from Northern Ireland and 14 from the South.

Led by the National Women’s Council (NWC), The Women’s Forum aims to address underrepresentation of women and further develop women’s role in peacebuilding and civic society. Funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, the Women’s Forum will also support building sustainable North South links, provide a space for marginalised communities, and build better understanding and inter-community links.

Reflecting the diversity of society on this island was central in the selection process. NWC has sought representation from groups all-too-often left out of decision-making spaces including PUL, LGBTI+, women from minority ethnic groups, Traveller women, disabled women, rural women and young women. We have sought to expand our understanding of peacebuilding and reconciliation structures with the inclusion of representatives from Sport and the Arts.

Orla O’Connor, NWC Director said,

“The forum will provide a unique opportunity to address women’s underrepresentation in peacebuilding structures and will ensure that women’s voices are heard in all their diversity. In creating a space for women to come together, the forum will facilitate collaboration on key issues affecting women and will work to provide a stronger voice on these common issues and concerns for women on our shared island.”

Emma DeSouza, Women’s Leadership Coordinator, NWC and Chairperson of the All-Island Women’s Forum said,

“There is empirical data to support the benefit of women’s voices in peacebuilding. Evidence demonstrates that women in peace processes are more likely to focus on reconciliation, economic development, and transitional justice – all critical elements of a sustained peace. On this island many of the barriers that women face know no border. The Good Friday Agreement includes a commitment to North-South equivalence on rights as well as the full participation of women in public and political life. The women’s forum will seek to build and embed these commitments on the island of Ireland, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325.”

Emma DeSouza concluded,

“The appetite for meaningful structures to provide greater engagement and understanding on this island is evident from the overwhelming interest we have received in the formation of this forum.”

  • Chairperson and Facilitator: Emma DeSouza, Women’s Leadership Coordinator, NWC
  • Encounters program facilitator: Ailbhe Smyth, Academic, Feminist and LGBTQ Activist
  • In attendance: Louise Lovett, NWC Chairperson, Margaret Martin, NWC Deputy-Chairperson

All-Island Women’s Forum Members:

  • Danielle Roberts, Senior Policy Development Officer, Here NI
  • Kendall Bousquet, Migration Justice Advocacy Officer, Migrants Centre NI
  • Kimberly Robertson, Vice-chair, East Belfast GAA
  • Eileen Weir, Community Activist
  • Dr Amanda Slevin, Chairperson, NI Climate Coalition
  • Sipho Sibanda, Human Rights Activist
  • Dr Lisa Wilson, Senior Economist, Nevin Economic Research Institute
  • Elaine Crory, Good Relations Coordinator, Women’s Resource and Development Agency
  • Paula McAliskey, Engagement Officer, Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN)
  • Tara Grace Connolly, Youth Activist/UN Youth Delegate
  • Avila Kilmurray, Migration and Peacebuilding Executive at The Social Change Initiative, Author, and founding member NI Women’s Coalition
  • Annmarie O’Kane, Information Manager / Border People Project Manager, Centre for Cross Border Studies
  • Jane Morrice, Director Integrated Education Fund, Hon President European Movement NI, founding member NI Women’s Coalition
  • Dr Joanna McMinn, Community Development and Feminist Activist
  • Tara Farrell, CEO, Longford Women’s Link
  • Dr Salome Mbugua, Head of Operations & Strategy, AkiDwa
  • Miriam Holt, National Coordinator, National Collective Community Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN)
  • Jennifer Okeke Campbell, Anti-trafficking Coordinator, Immigrant Council of Ireland
  • Caroline França, Communications Officer, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
  • Síona Cahill, Campaigner and Radio Contributor, one of the Irish Examiner’s ‘100 women changing Ireland in 2021’
  • Lydia Gratis, Anti-racism Educator & Activist, Black Wellness Content Creator, Deaf Youth Advocate.
  • Dr Mary C. Murphy, Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration, University College Cork
  • Clare Austick, President, Union of Students Ireland (USI)
  • Ethel Buckley, Deputy General Secretary, Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU)
  • Colette O’Regan, Senior Training and Advocacy Coordinator, LGBT Ireland
  • Brigid Quilligan, Project Manager, Kerry Travellers Health and Community Development Project
  • Amina Moustafa, Women's Leadership Programme Manager, Glencree Peace Centre
  • Mary Moynihan, Artistic Director, Smashing Times

In tandem with the main forum the project will also include an ‘encounters’ programme that will organise a meeting once a month between an organisation in the South and an organisation in Northern Ireland to help forge greater links between organisations on this island.


For more information, please contact Laura Pakenham, Communications Officer, NWC, Tel. 085 861 9087 or laurap@nwci.ie

Notes to the Editor:
About the Women’s Forum

The objective of the Women’s Forum is to provide a space for women on an all-island basis for cross border cooperation and dialogue.

Led by the National Women’s Council (NWC), the forum will consist of 14 members from the South and 14 members from Northern Ireland. The Women’s Forum aims to address underrepresentation of women and further develop women’s role in peacebuilding and civic society. The Women’s Forum will also support building sustainable North South links, provide a space for marginalised communities and build better understanding and inter-community links.

The forum will meet virtually on a monthly basis to identify areas that can be worked on a collaborative basis.

The Forum represents a contribution by the National Women’s Council to the Irish Government’s Shared Island initiative in the Department of an Taoiseach, by enhancing civil society links and supporting engagement by women, across communities and traditions on the island, on issues of common concern.

The Forum successfully applied for a grant through the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Reconciliation Fund.

Possible areas of cooperation identified are:

  • Women in leadership
  • Women’s voices in peacebuilding
  • The impact of Covid-19 on women
  • Ethnic minority groups and political participation
  • Young women in leadership
  • Climate action
  • Rural disparity
  • Violence against women

Encounters program

The encounters program will identify organisations in Northern Ireland and the South, including at local, regional, and national levels, who may have areas of commonality. The objective is to facilitate an information sharing meeting where two chosen organisations can meet to discuss their work and build a relationship. The objectives and preferred outcomes are that these meetings will build greater understanding, encourage increased cooperation, and cross border work, and potentially lead to greater collaboration between civic society organisations on the island. The work of the encounters program operates in tandem with the women’s forum.