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Local Women’s Network Exploring New Directions

Published on:  11 Nov 2011

A new 2-year programme specifically for women across the north-west titled ‘Exploring New Directions’ has today been officially launched by the Inishowen Women’s Information Network (IWIN) in association with its programme partner, the Mid Ulster Women’s Network (MUWN).  The official launch event took place at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana and was attended by almost 150 guests, comprising individual women, community groups and representatives from various city and county councils.

Exploring New Directions is a two-year programme of activities targeting isolated women primarily in rural communities and is aimed at engaging them in civic activity in their own community and then sharing this with women in other communities on a cross-border and cross-community basis.

The programme builds on the previous very successful projects undertaken by the two groups and supported by the International Fund for Ireland.  These programmes centred around peace building issues, in which these respective organisations have nurtured and developed strategic links with a network of active groups in the Donegal and Mid Ulster communities, as well as organisations in Dublin and Belfast.

The Inishowen leg of ‘Exploring New Directions’ begins in Buncrana on November 17 next when ten local women will come together for four weeks before spending a further six weeks in Claudy, where they will join twenty other women from the North.  The cross-border course, which will incorporate a number of field trips, will include a very gentle introduction to peace and reconciliation as well as various aspects of stress management, personal development, citizens advice and cooking on a budget.  It is expected that 150 women in total will participate in the programme which will finish with a major conference where the participating women will deliver and share their respective experiences.

Funding for the Exploring New Directions programme has been provided by the International Fund for Ireland under its Building Bridges, Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme (€257,874) with the balance of €14,000 having been raised by the Groups themselves, through various local fundraising activities.

Commenting on the new programme, Project Co-ordinator, Jacqui Rooney said: “The course is about breaking down barriers for women to get out there and interact with people.  It is important, particularly for the mental health of women, to be able to have a choice of going out and meeting people to build friendships.”  

In relation to the funding for the project, she said: “This funding is most welcome and has given us the necessary financial stability to concentrate on engaging in vital work with quite vulnerable women, while not having to worry where next year’s funding is coming from.”  

Speaking at the project launch, Dr. Denis Rooney, Chairman for the International Fund for Ireland, said: “The International Fund for Ireland is delighted to continue our support for the work of the Inishowen Women’s Information Network and the Mid-Ulster Women’s Information Network.  The Exploring New Directions project will allow women to come together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding, to tell their stories and be listened to.  It will empower women to become change leaders in their homes, in their workplaces and in their communities.”  

He continued: “The contribution of women peacemakers must be celebrated in our communities.  I am very confident that this particular project will help to empower women to play a major role in securing the lasting peace to which we all aspire.”        

Dr. Rooney also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for almost twenty-five years: namely, the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Local women interested in joining the course should register their interest as soon as possible for ‘Exploring New Directions’.  For more information, call 074 93 735562.

The Inishowen Women’s Information Network was set up in 2000 to initially provide an information network for women’s groups in Inishowen, committed to improving the lifestyle of local women through Personal Development, Education, Representation, Socialising and Mutual Support.

 Click here to download press release 

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