More than 800 women across the country will be empowered into educational or employment pathways under the $1 million Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Empowerment Fund, as five non-profit organisations are to receive funding. The five innovative non-profits will support women who are experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage and discrimination, combating the deep barriers that face them in relation to accessing the labour market.

The awardee organisations announced are:

  • Higher education network EQUAL Ireland;
  • Jobcare, working in Dublin’s inner city assisting those struggling with the effects of long-term unemployment;
  • Voluntary Community Development Organisation Meath Travellers’ Workshops, a partnership of Travellers and Settled people working together;
  • One Family, a specialist service provider to people living in one-parent families;
  • and Saoirse – Ethnic Hands on Deck, a social enterprise founded by migrant women living in direct provision and local communities across County Cork.

Building on the success of the previous Mná na hÉireann Women of Ireland Fund 2019 – 2022, which empowered more than 1,000 women into sustainable employment, this new iteration of the fund aims to support women facing intersecting forms of disadvantage who will benefit most from intensive wraparound support to enable them to transition into education or employment.

Showcasing the direct impact of the 2019-2022 Mná na hÉireann Fund are social entrepreneurs Caroline O’Shaughnessy and Riona Feerick, two women who have moved from participants to project leaders with EQUAL Ireland, a higher education network. Both have a lived experience of disadvantage and disability and know the benefits of a supportive, mentoring and confidence-building learning experience and environment. They earned BA Honours Degrees in Business, Social Enterprise, Leadership and Management and are now certified mentors and part-time tutors. The two women are also in the process of establishing their own social enterprise.

The Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Empowerment Fund 2023 – 2026 is a $1 million fund created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. This most recent commitment brings the total fund investment to €3.2 million.

Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Joe O’Brien TD said: “The five non-profit organisations announced today play an integral role in enabling women in Ireland, breaking down the barriers they face in pursuing equality and financial security through education and employment. We are delighted to support the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Empowerment Fund to this aim.”

Fernando Vicario, CEO of Bank of America Europe DAC, and Country Executive for Ireland commented: “Consistent with our approach towards Responsible Growth, we are committed to investing in women within our company and in the communities we serve. We are immensely proud that our partnership with Rethink Ireland has already placed more than 1,000 women in Ireland into sustainable employment. Today’s announcement marks another important milestone in our collaboration and we congratulate the five new organisations that will support hundreds more women facing disadvantage, by providing educational and employment pathways.”


Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland said: “There can be no equality without equality for women. The Mná na hÉireann Empowerment Fund is dedicated to empowering women who are experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage and marginalisation. It is critical that we enable this group of women through education and employment, to change not only their lives but also the lives of their families. Moving women out of poverty and into decent work is the one generation solution to poverty. This is the focus of the five non-profit organisations announced today.”

She continued: “The deep barriers that persist to equality for women are in the areas of care, education, employment and remuneration, all of which impact negatively on women’s economic mobility, compounding disadvantage. We’re delighted to continue our longstanding partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development, in supporting organisations who aim to tackle these issues.