Cross Party support for NCCWN Women’s Networks
Last week, the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN) made a presentation Cross Party Briefing to members of the Oireachtas.
The presentation was to inform members of the Oireachtas of the valuable work of NCCWN which is focused on women experiencing disadvantage and to seek cross party support to continue to have funding ring fenced to ensure its work can continue into 2015 and beyond.
Forty one T.Ds and Senators attended or were represented. The briefing was arranged by Padraig MacLochlainn, TD, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence why not try these out.
Miriam Holt, NCCWN National Coordinator led out by giving an overview of the national organisation and its’ local networks, emphasising the voluntary nature of its management structures and the real impact NCCWN had on the lives of disadvantaged women throughout Ireland. This fact was supported by the many TDs and Senators who praised highly the work of their local women’s network.
Miriam Holt also explained the uniqueness of NCCWN: “What is particularly unique to this national organisation is that it works specifically with disadvantaged women. The work of the 17 NCCWN Projects and its 44 staff is and always has been managed by volunteers, locally and nationally.”
Last year NCCWN engaged with 36,589 women. The depth and breadth of the work of NCCWN was very well outlined by inputs from NCCWN women networks based in Dublin, Donegal and Limerick. The presentations and personal stories shared by women who had benefited from their local network clearly demonstrated that no other organisation fulfils a similar role and thousands of women would be silenced if funding is not continued. In support of having the work of NCCWN funded in 2015 and beyond over 2, 000 letters were sent by women from the 17 NCCWN local women’s projects to Minister Hogan.
One NCCWN project Ronanstown CDP outlined on the day that: they are funded with 3 NCCWN staff; this allows the project to employ 14 additional staff in the project either through Community Employment, Childcare and Department of Education funding. Projects also leverage additional finance to run educational programmes for the community. NCCWN Ronanstown CDP branch reiterated that they have 175 participants using their service on a weekly basis and they care for 26 children in their crèche per day. Economically this highlights how funding NCCWN is excellent value for money.
Many of the issues raised and identified were the same for women regardless of their geographical location. Through involvement with their local women’s network the individual woman’s voice, needs and concerns are articulated at national level. All 17 women’s projects work together to influence policy and decision making at a local and national level.
During the presentation NCCWN highlighted the International, EU and National legal obligations and commitments made by the Irish Government to Women’s Equality. The work of NCCWN was seen as a way of supporting the Governments commitments to these obligations and as a way of addressing the inequality experienced by women in Ireland.
There was representation from all the political parties and a good cross section of Independents. Senator Susan O’ Keefe, Lab, offered her support and Senator John Kelly organised a meeting, prior to the briefing, between Jim McGrath, Political & Policy Advisor to Alan Kelly, Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government and NCCWN.
The political representatives present fully supported the need to have funding for NCCWN continue. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, SF said “On behalf of myself and Sinn Fein I acknowledge the urgent need for a network such as NCCWN. I pledge my support and that of my party for the retention of NCCWN. The budget for NCCWN in fact needs to be expanded.” Deputy McDonald concluded “I know the huge beneficial effect that work such as yours has.”
Deputy Eamon O Cuiv FF remarked that “There are two issues as I see it. Funding for NCCWN and for the Traveller projects nationally“. Deputy O Cuiv went on to say he would support both NCCWN and the National Traveller Partnership (NTP) to remain as alternative stand- alone entities.
TD Joe Carey FG stated, “I admire greatly the work of the Clare Women’s Network. He thanked and congratulated the presenters and expressed a special thanks and appreciation for the women who told their own personal stories. “The women’s networks around the country are strong and vibrant, I will commit to organising a meeting with the Minister as soon as possible to help NCCWN broker a deal”.
Miriam Holt, National Coordinator concluded the meeting by thanking deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn T.D. and Danielle Martin, his political advisor, for their support and stated “We were truly delighted with the number of T.Ds and Senators who attended or were represented, forty one in total. It is very heartening and affirming to have our public representatives acknowledge and value the work of the NCCWN and to know that we have such extensive cross party support.
National Collective of Community Based Women’s
Help Secure the Future of NCCWN and its local Women’s Projects beyond 2014