The Donegal Women’s Network has said that their future is under threat unless they are successful in their national campaign to have national funding ringfenced for their work.
For the past 18 years, Donegal Women’s Network (DWN) has been a voice and advocate for many women in Donegal at a local and national level.
Currently, the National Collective of Community-based Women’s Networks (NCCWN), the work of the 17 local women’s projects across the country, including the Donegal Women’s Network, is funded at national level under the Local Community Development Programme (LCDP). Under plans for local government reform, that would change.
Under the new Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme, organisations must competitively tender locally to deliver work. The NCCWN are concerned that the tendering process makes it impossible for national organisations and those working on a single-issue basis to apply. This means the NCCWN cannot tender nationally to continue its current work with women from disadvantaged communities and funding for the 17 locally-based projects, including the Donegal Women’s Network, is under serious threat.
The NCCWN’s annual budget is €1.3 million, which funds the work of the 17 NCCWN women’s projects. Donegal Women’s Network and the 16 other women’s networks nationally are under grave threat of losing their funding now and of possible closure at the end of the year.
Locally, the Donegal Women’s Network has helped and supported women coming together throughout the county, whether as a local women’s group or through the provision of information sessions, training or hosting networking events or to celebrate women’s lives and achievements. Over the years, the network has challenged the structures that impact on women’s lives in Donegal.
Some years ago, Breege Doherty, gender and equality policy officer, led out on Donegal’s gender equality project, Restoring the Balance, which aimed to increase the effective participation of women within key decision-making structures in Donegal. More recently, Donegal Women’s Network has been very active as part of the North West 50-50 group, a national campaign advocating for equal representation in Irish Politics.
The Network has also actively supported the sustainability and development of Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service and has given a voice to many of the concerns and reality of women’s lives in Donegal through their weekly feature in the Donegal Democrat.
The Donegal Women’s Network are asking people to support their campaign for survival by writing to Minister Phil Hogan, TD, requesting that funding is ringfenced for the National Women’s Collective, or by lobbying their local councillors or TDs on the issue.