National Women’s Council Holds First Meeting of All-Island Women’s Forum
Published: Thursday, July 29, 2021
The National Women’s Council (NWC) is delighted to hold the first meeting of the All-Island Women’s Forum today
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.
Today Mrs Sabina Higgins will address the historic first meeting of the All-Island Women’s Forum, marking the importance of the task that lays before members. The forum will then sit on the last Thursday of every month for an initial one-year pilot term.
Emma DeSouza, NWC Women’s Leadership Coordinator and Chairperson of the All-Island Women’s Forum said,
“The forum will encourage greater all-island collaboration within civil society organisations and identify key areas to advance women’s rights and equality on an all-island basis as well as developing the role of women in peacebuilding and civic and political life. Female peace-builders remain an underutilised resource in advancing the peace process and tackling institutionalised sectarianism, the forum will seek to act as a conduit for greater cooperation and a catalyst for the inclusion of women’s voices in these spaces.”
Orla O’Connor, NWC Director said,
“Reflecting the diversity of women’s voices and experiences on our shared island, the forum will create a space for greater cross-border collaboration on key issues affecting women. The Women’s Forum will also work to address the underrepresentation of women in peacebuilding structures, particularly for those groups 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.”
Louise Lovett, NWC Chairperson said,
“The first meeting of the All-Island Women’s Forum marks a historic day for the National Women’s Council, in contributing to further strengthening cooperation and highlighting shared concerns and issues for women on this island, in line with our new Strategic Plan ‘No Woman Left Behind’."
"The forum will make an invaluable contribution to the island and to civic society in building on the work of numerous National Women’s Council member groups and on the many existing ties between women’s organisations and women leaders on our shared island.”
For more information, please contact Laura Pakenham, Digital Communications Officer, NWC, Tel. 085 861 9087, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Emma DeSouza, Women’s Leadership Coordinator, NWC, Tel: 0044 7575 0078987, email: email@example.com
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.
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 Chair, Margaret Martin, NWC Deputy-Chair
- 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
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
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.