President: Scene is set for Irish women to lead through philanthropy

IN what is being seen by many as a coming of age for Irish women, Ireland’s first philanthropy fund has been set up by women to tackle problems facing less advantaged women across the country.

One-in-five Irish women experience domestic violence in their lives while 85% of reported cases of rape to the Rape Crisis Network are from women. Furthermore, up to 85% of lone parents are women. Yet, in light of the many issues facing women alone, just 14% of our TDs are women compared to an EU average of 24%.

To kick-start the fund, the Community Foundation for Ireland pledged €100,000 as a challenge grant. For every €1000 pledged the fund by an individual, family, business or organisation, a matching amount of €500 will be provided by The Community Foundation.

The launch of the fund coincided with a symposium on the “Realising the Power and Potential of Women in Philanthropy” jointly hosted by The Community Foundation for Ireland and Philanthropy Ireland.

Speaking at the symposium, President, Mary Mc Aleese said there has been an enormous increase in the past 80 years in the numbers of independent and high-achieving women and that “the scene is set for the emergence of more and more women in a position financially to chose a civic leadership role through philanthropy”.

“As more and more women move into positions of leadership and authority, they will play an increasingly prominent role as philanthropic funders and it is very heartening to learn of the establishment of the new Irish Women’s Fund, which will enable women philanthropists to target their support to causes that directly affect women and girls.

“This emerging constituency offers us the opportunity to become much more astute and effective problem solvers by harnessing the might of what would otherwise be fragmented resources and creating a new source of power and influence,” she said.

The fund has been established to raise money to tackle violence against women, fight poverty and to improve women’s access to healthcare and education.

It will also seek to battle human trafficking and prostitution, help the integration of new communities, women in the arts and support literacy and carers. The fund will provide small grants to grassroots groups and support strategies aimed at bettering women’s lives.

Speaking at the symposium, chief executive of the Community Foundation for Ireland, Tina Roche said women are playing, and will play, a crucial role in the development of philanthropy in Ireland over the coming years.

“Women are becoming more independently wealthy than ever before, are living longer than men and many women now have the capacity to help make real social change in Ireland through their wealth, skills and energy.

“This is why we think the time is right to establish Ireland’s first ever Women’s Fund,” she said.


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