Awarded Fund

Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Recovery Fund

Enhancing the economic mobility of women and empowering them to secure employment post-pandemic.

Pictured from left: Heydi Foster, Chief Executive Officer of An Cosán; Fernando Vicario, CEO Bank of America Europe DAC and Country Executive for Ireland; and Carmel Ward, An Cosán learner; announcing a €400,000 extension to the Mná na hÉireann – Women of Ireland Fund, created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. Photo: Naoise Culhane.

The Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Recovery Fund is a continuation of our partnership with Bank of America to provide follow-on funding to Awardees from the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The purpose of this additional funding is to support projects to empower women into sustainable employment, acknowledging and addressing the additional barriers faced as a result of COVID-19, as well as responding to the changing labour market, and supporting projects to continue to scale, and increase their sustainability.

On March 2nd 2022, we announced the five Awardees of our Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Recovery Fund. Each Awardee supports and empowers women to progress their education or progress into new or more sustainable employment.




WorkEqual, previously Dress For Success, was founded by Sonya Lennon in 2011. Based on an international model, their founding principle in Ireland was to promote the economic independence of women, by delivering a pincer movement: supporting individual women to enter the workforce with confidence, while initiating a national discussion on barriers to economic equality for women. The services on offer include their suiting service, work wardrobe, career advice service and their developmental programmes including mentoring, returnships and financial education.

Amplifying Rural Voices

Created by Equal Ireland, the Amplifying Rural Voices project supports women to gain degrees, having acquired new skills and knowledge in areas such as Social and Commercial Enterprise, Community Development, Leadership and Management. This prepares them for employment and promotional opportunities as well as voluntary endeavours. Another cohort of women receive Special Purpose Awards in the fields of Social Enterprise Development and Governance, and in Mentoring Applicants for Recognition of Prior Learning, especially but not exclusively for entrance to third-level programmes.

Here Comes the Girls

The ‘Here Comes the Girls’ programme created by Westmeath Community Development removes barriers that exist for many females preventing and discouraging some from taking part in training and upskilling. These include childcare costs, lack of transport, uncertainty and lack of prior training and/or work experience. Each course offers women an opportunity to gain relevant labour market training and qualifications in roles that are in high demand in the retail, hospitality & care industries.

Integration from Day One

Created by the Irish Refugee Council, this project addresses the main barriers and challenges that refugee women face in developing and maintaining skills while in the asylum process, or seeking employment once eligible to work, through a tailored package of support and training. Recognising the importance of early integration, the project is unique in that it supports women at all stages of the asylum process, as well as those with refugee status, by delivering employment-related and personal development training, incorporating new technological solutions, and connecting women with local supporting partners and employers.

Women's Education Programme

An Cosán’s Women’s Education Programme addresses the major challenge of providing empowering and effective progression routes through education into quality employment for marginalised women, particularly women parenting alone. The project encompasses a 2-year progression pathway which enables women to fulfil their potential and exit poverty permanently.