Rethink Ireland Launch “Freedom From Fear” Fund with Proclamation To End Violence Against Women In Ireland

Rethink Ireland call for business leaders and philanthropists to contribute to the Freedom From Fear Fund, to help end violence against women in Ireland.

22/02/2022 Rethink Ireland launch Freedom From Fear Find. Pictured watching a traditional printing press in action in The National Print Museum, Dublin, was (l to r) Maria Elena Costa Human Rights Lead Irish Network Against Racism; Aine Kerr, Co-Founder and COO, Kinzen; Seán Cooke, CEO, Men's Development Network; Stephanie Walsh, Business Development Director, Rethink Ireland; Orla O’Connor, Director, National Women's Council; MC Sonya Lennon CEO, WorkEqual; and Noeline Blackwell, CEO, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, as Rethink Ireland launch their first national philanthropic fund to help end violence against women. Rethink Ireland and the National Women’s Council are calling for philanthropists and business leaders to join them to contribute to the Freedom From Fear Fund that seeks to help end violence against women in Ireland. Members of the general public are also welcome to contribute to the fund. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

The Freedom From Fear Fund has been created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with the National Women’s Council. The Fund, which has an initial target of raising €100,000, is now open for donations. 

Aine Kerr co-founder and COO of Kinzen announced the first business donation to the fund by her company, co-owned with Mark Little. 

The Fund aims to support education and prevention programmes working with girls and boys as well as supporting projects that address the structural causes and the risk and protective factors, associated with violence against women. The Fund will also support projects working to achieve systemic culture change and innovative services to survivors of violence and their families. 

On Tuesday the 22nd of February, a Proclamation to end violence against women in Ireland was launched, with a live printing of the document at the National Print Museum in Dublin, attended by Orla O’Connor, Noeline Blackwell, Sonya Lennon, Áine Kerr and others. 

The Proclamation is based on the UN and Council of Europe’s Conventions, signed by Ireland, which enshrines the rights of women to live with freedom from fear.  A personal testimony was delivered at the launch by Charlene Masterson, a survivor of violent abuse.

Jim Daly, Interim CEO, Rethink Ireland, said, “Our goal is to support projects that work to both prevent violence against women through education, as well as protect women from harm. In Rethink Ireland, we are proud to already be supporting projects working in this space such as The SAOL Project and Active* Consent in NUI Galway, but we want to be able to empower many more organisations like them to carry out their critical work.”

Stephanie Walsh, Business Development Director at Rethink Ireland said; “Moved by the public mood for a cultural and societal shift, we created this Fund to address the structural issues in Ireland that can lead to violence against women. We are calling on companies, families and individuals who have a desire to give back to act now and get involved with the Freedom From Fear Fund. Together, we can work to address the fundamental gaps in our society that lead to women being discriminated against and therefore more likely to experience violence.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council said; “NWC welcomes the opportunity to partner with Rethink Ireland and to provide our expertise in the establishment of this fund, which will provide crucial supports to many organisations working to end gender-based violence. Violence against women is an epidemic in Ireland, it has a devastating impact on the lives of women, girls their families and communities. We are at a critical moment where people want to see change happening, a national conversation has started on how we protect women from men’s violence but crucially, how we prevent gender-based violence from occurring in the first place. This Fund has the potential to be a catalyst in creating a zero-tolerance culture towards misogyny and sexism that permeates our society and creates the context in which gender-based violence occurs.”

Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said; “We are pleased to show our support for the launch of the Freedom From Fear Fund today and to add our voices to the thousands around the country calling for further measures to stop violence against women for good. In the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, we witness first-hand the traumas inflicted on survivors of sexual violence. The time is long overdue for us as a society to prioritise the rights of women and girls and to eliminate any tolerance to violence against women through properly resourced and accessible education, training and awareness-raising programmes.”

Áine Kerr, Co-Founder and COO of Kinzen said; “I think I speak for more than those gathered here today, that we are deeply saddened – but also very angered – at the rate of advancement on women’s equality over the decades. I encourage those in the business community who are in a position to contribute to the Freedom From Fear Fund, to contact Rethink Ireland today and find out how you can become part of the progression.”

Sonya Lennon, Founder of WorkEqual and MC at the launch event said; “WorkEqual is a current recipient of Rethink Ireland supports, so we have direct experience of the difference it can make to an organisation to be recognised and backed in this way. I would like to echo what others have said here today, that this is an opportunity for business leaders to be part of the solution and to make a meaningful contribution to an issue which touches so many lives across the country.” 

Charlene Masterson , survivor, delivered a powerful testimony at the launch:

“Speaking out about my experience initially was horrendous for me. The difficulty of disclosing the details of my abuse to strangers was so daunting. Where do I begin? Would they believe me? I began to have doubts before I even started. I felt physically ill as the memories came flooding back. It was a very painful and long process. I was reliving it all over again talking about things that I had consciously and purposely put to the back of my mind. The embarrassment and shame of having to speak of these horrors of the abuse, out loud caused me to crumble.

But I no longer feel shame or fear when speaking out about these experiences. I continued for so many years carrying these secrets. I have started to rebuild my life properly. However, I did not make it here by myself. A friend of mine studying social care noticed the signs and essentially saved my life. The DRCC staff were the key to getting me through the court proceedings, the months that followed and I will always know that they are just at the end of the phone if I need them because they were there for me and helped me when I really needed it.

A life goal for me now, after my journey through abuse, is to develop school programmes to help raise awareness and, also to teach children of all ages the signs of abuse. I want to develop these programmes to help people realise when they’re in an abusive situation, but also to help people identify the signs of an abuse victim so they may spot it in other people who are possibly suffering.”

Donate to the Freedom From Fear Fund HERE