The new fund, which is the first of its kind in Ireland has been established to support charitable and social enterprise organisations that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women, by investing in organisations that provide training, upskilling, education and other services directly to disadvantaged women.
According to figures from the Central Statistics Office Ireland, the gender participation gap in the Irish labour market is one of the widest in Europe, compared to other EU-15 countries. The female labour force participation rate is 14% lower than their male counterparts, despite women making up more than half of third level graduates in Ireland.
In addition to grant funding, successful organisations will receive a place on an Accelerator Programme, which includes bespoke training from experts across the private, non-profit and public sector. Employees from the bank will also provide mentoring and further tailored training to the successful organisations. The Programme is specifically designed to equip charities and social enterprises with the skills to expand their business knowledge, drive growth and strengthen their impact across Ireland.
Launching the new ‘Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland’ Fund, The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, “I believe diversity and equality in the workplace lead to better results for employers and businesses and the clients or communities they serve. I am really pleased to see Bank of America collaborating with Rethink Ireland to provide training and upskilling to women experiencing disadvantage. The €1.8 million fund has the potential to create a lasting impact and transform the lives of the women involved and add value to our society. This initiative also complements the work being done by Government to reduce the gender pay gap in Ireland and ensure greater representation of women across all sectors of Irish society.”
Bank of America has a longstanding commitment to improving economic mobility by building strong communities. The bank is working to effect positive change and sustainable growth through a variety of local and global initiatives across Ireland, including partnerships with Music Generation, South Dublin County Partnership and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD said, “The Department of Rural and Community Development is delighted to be a partner of this initiative. Every euro that is donated in private philanthropy to Rethink Ireland is matched by the Department through the Dormant Accounts Fund. With this approach, we are helping to support charities and social enterprises to maximise their impact across Ireland.’’
Anne Finucane, Chairman, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe and Vice Chairman, Bank of America, said: “Fostering sustainable growth, economic mobility and social progress within the communities in which we operate is at the heart of our business. This new fund aims to support organisations which provide women with the tools needed to gain sustainable employment. We are pleased to be partnering with Rethink Ireland and The Irish Government to achieve this goal.”
Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland said: “Our aim is to support women who find it hard to access the labour market into decent and sustainable work by supporting relevant organisations to empower women by improving their skills, enabling them to seek higher quality, more challenging, and more fulfilling long-term employment.
“With the establishment of this pioneering fund and working closely with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development, we aim to empower 1,000 women to find and secure sustained employment over the course of three years.’’
Organisations wishing to apply to the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund can find details on the Rethink Ireland website www.socialinnovation.ie/mna-na-heireann-fund with the application period open from today until 18 April 2019.