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Waterford Women's Centre

Accessible Higher Education for Community Women

As a working class woman I have had greater opportunities and possibilities opened up to me as a direct result of this programme and of my involvement with Waterford Women’s Centre in particular. I left school at 15 and would not have contemplated taking on this without all the supports that are available to me within Waterford Women’s Centre.


Participant,

Waterford Women's Centre.

 
 
The Equality for Women Measure 2010-2013 operated from October 2010.  Initially, a total of 42 organisations were awarded funding, of up to €50,000, per annum per project, for one or more years (subject to conditions), to deliver clearly targeted projects which foster gender equality through the delivery of practical customised development supports.

The 42 projects were broken down according to the following thematic strands; Strand 1/Access to Employment (31), Strand 2/Developing Female Entrepreneurship (10) and Strand 3/Career Development for Women in Employment (1). 

The projects supported a wide range of initiatives aimed at addressing areas of inequality within the labour force, or decision-making roles within the work-place and to support women undertaking entrepreneurial activity.
The Equality for Women Measure 2010-2013 was funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-2013  and the Department of Justice and Equality.
 
 
EWM Projects
 
Since 2010, Equality for Women Measure projects worked to engage women in education, training, employment and enterprise. The projects supported a wide range of initiatives aimed at addressing areas of inequality within the labour force, or decision-making roles within the workplace and to support women who are undertaking entrepreneurial activity.

The Measure benefited a total of 3,173 individual women in 2012, across all strands. This output can be further broken down according to EWM strand and whether participants were engaged in accredited training or other associated supports.
 
  • Strand 1 /Access to Employment – 1,964 participants (1,196 accredited & 768 non-accredited training) 
     
  • Strand 2 /Developing Female Entrepreneurship – 1,069 participants (21 accredited & 1,048 non-accredited training) 
     
  • Strand 3 /Career Development for Women in Employment – 140 participants (140 non-accredited training)
     
     
    In terms of the progression pathways of participants, the findings indicate that in 2012 a total of 566 women took up employment/further training following their participation on EWM Strand 1 projects. This result is important when we take in to account the economic climate and limited employment opportunities for learners, even within low paid sectors and those sectors that have traditionally been the domain of women. Moreover, organisations have indicated greater competition for places on training and educational programmes due to increased demand from people on the live register.

    In relation to Strand 2, a total of 197 women moved to early stage entrepreneurship in 2012 following their participation on an EWM project. This represents a considerable accomplishment in recessionary times and also in light of the fact that a small, but not insignificant number of participants on Strand 2 projects are from vulnerable groups such as migrants, Travellers and disadvantaged rural women.

    In terms of Strand 3, a total of 60 women advanced their careers within one year in 2012 following their participation in the single EWM project funded under this strand.  The project focused on dismantling the ‘glass ceiling’ by improving promotion prospects for female academics and researchers in a 3rd level Institution.  In addition, the project developed strategies to promote longer term impact both within the institution itself and in terms of sharing learning across the Irish higher education sector.

    Finally, it is also important to note that EWM projects have resulted in less tangible outcomes that extend beyond formal labour market outcomes. Progression can be seen from a social capital perspective, particularly in respect of women who are marginalised and experience social exclusion. Many of the projects have indicated that participants have gained benefits in terms of developing confidence, life skills, increased social and workplace skills and enhanced quality of life. These outcomes are important and in time provide a springboard to labour market engagement and progression as well as intergenerational outcomes in terms of the labour market for vulnerable groups.
     
     
     
     
     
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