Spotlight On: Networking & Community Group women4women

The group supports and connects women in Ireland

Sadly, to this day, women all over the world continue to be judged, abused and harassed for simply existing – and women4women hope to change that. First established in 2011, this non-profit educational and networking group was set up for women from different cultures with different life experiences.

Speaking with Marilyn Nyquist, Daniela Naab and Marese Hegarty, all of whom are members of the steering committee of the women4women Network, they tell me how exactly this group came about.

“​​It grew out of an initiative from the Southside Partnership to bring together women leaders in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County to look at women’s involvement in local structures and organisations and to create a network that linked us together.

“We started organising Multicultural Women’s Breakfasts where all women living in the county could learn, share and celebrate together. From the workshops at the breakfasts, we were then able to identify the support women needed to progress and from this, the Women’s Programme in Southside Partnership was set up.”

While the network aims to promote intercultural understanding and cooperation among women in the DLR community, it also hopes to provide information and a platform for women living all around Ireland. “​​In the current climate where racism and far-right ideology are spreading, it’s important for women of all ethnicities, religions and ages to come together so they can connect, learn, and have fun,” explains Marilyn.

Then, of course, comes the many challenges that women of different cultures currently face in Ireland. For example, women moving into Ireland for the first time can often experience social isolation in the sense that they have no built-up social networks, no extended family, and no professional networks.

Raising children in a new culture while holding on to your own culture is also a challenge,” the group explain, while many also struggle to find work due to a lack of recognition of qualities or even just being under-experienced. These are just some of the many challenges these women face. Therefore, having a safe space such as this organisation is vital in helping women find their feet in today’s society.

With a focus on empowering women, some of the network’s core values include inclusivity, gender equality, empowerment, integration and interconnectivity between all Irish and migrant women and respect for diversity. Each of these values is achieved through an array of events, workshops and classes held by the Women’s programme.

“We hold the Multicultural Women’s Breakfasts in various locations around the county every 6 weeks. Our courses and events provide an opportunity for empowerment, integration and leadership development. These include Personal Development, English Language and Communication, Arts and Crafts, Job Seeking Skills, and Leadership Development. In fact, some of these courses are now being facilitated by women who started out as participants.”

Following on from the above, women4women also works hard to combat gender equality and sexism, by ​​not only raising awareness and providing information about women’s rights but by also initiating and supporting local community groups to engage with various decision-making structures in the county.

“Women who engage in our programme have a sense of belonging to a welcoming, friendly, accepting community,” and as one participant recently said, “Because this community gives such support and strength, people start believing in themselves.”

If you’re looking to get involved with women4women or want to keep up to date with upcoming courses and events, you can check them out at their website, or through their social media platforms on Facebook @women4women or on Instagram @women4womenireland. 

This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of STELLAR magazine.