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All the latest news from WRDA!

When? Wednesday 8th March, 9.30am - 11.30am
Where? 6 Mount Charles, Belfast, BT71NZ

Come along to our open house event to celebrate with us the history of IWD and have the opportunity to hear about the work we are doing within the community.

Light breakfast and live music.

Meet like-minded women and add your International Women’s Day wishes to our wishing tree. 

For catering purposes can you please register via Eventbrite or contact info@wrda.net or call 028 90 230 212

Controversial Conversations are a hit with Women in the Community
 
As a regional Women’s organisation it is always good to get out and about and ‘feel the pulse’ of  local women and explore what the issues are for them at present. So in the last two months I have been out meeting and engaging  with women from Limavady, Strabane, Portadown, Cookstown, Hilltown, Newry  and Derry. Our Good Relations workshops or ‘Controversial Conversations’ have really ignited the imagination of women’s groups and allowed them the space to discuss everything from relationships between catholics and protestants, shared housing, integrated education, the RHI scandal, and  newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers.

Given the nature of our snap elections, there has also been plenty of political debate and discussion and also the nature of politics in Northern Ireland. The feedback has been excellent and women feel that they have had the opportunity to have their opinions heard, learn some new information and also to feel challenged about some of their presumptions. I am delighted to say that I have been invited back by most of the groups to do more work with them which I am really looking forward to doing. Women’s opinions need to be heard; their voices need to be amplified and they need to be around decision-making tables. These workshops validate their opinions, concerns and ideas for building a better future; be that in their communities or in a more formal arena.

If these discussions are something that would interest your group please contact Kellie O'Dowd on kellie.odowd@wrda.net or call 028 90 230 212.
Time to Commit to Women #Time2Commit
In the run up to the election on 2nd March, women’s groups had a series of meetings with all the main political parties to demand action on women’s rights and equality. These were based on the feedback from the Women at the Cutting Edge Conference and the 3 key demands put forward by participants. You can read the conference report here: http://www.wrda.net/Documents/Publication2%20rtatt.pdf
 
WRDA’s women’s sector lobbyist organised the political party meetings under the Time to Commit to Women campaign in conjunction with Reclaim the Agenda and has summarised the responses from the parties on this blog: https://time2commit.wordpress.com/  
 
During the course of the meetings we heard unanimous support from all parties for the ground-breaking work on domestic violence and stalking that had been started by the Justice Minister with all representatives saying they are committed to ensuring this opportunity isn’t lost after the election. We were also pleased to hear all the parties claim to prioritise childcare and acknowledge the severity of the problems created by our lack of affordable childcare in Northern Ireland, especially in communities where women struggle to get back into training and work after having children. The biggest divergence in opinion between the parties was on the issue of abortion with some calling for this to be completely decriminalised and regulated as a healthcare service, while others want to see limited or no liberalisation of the law. Some parties approach it as an issue of personal conscience and allow a free vote. We stressed to the parties that the current arrangements are creating huge inequality between better off women who can afford to travel and pay for private health care and women who have limited choices because of lack of money.
 
The Time to Commit to Women campaign has helped remind all parties that issues affecting women should be firmly on their agenda if they are seeking women’s votes. It was difficult to get firm commitments to particular actions because of the uncertainty about what will happen after the elections and so in the negotiations that follow we would like to see some ‘red line’ issues for women’s rights being included. For example:
  • Single equality legislation and the bill of rights
  • Investment in childcare
  • Abortion law reform
  • Civic engagement and genuine partnership
Keep following the Time2Commit blog and WRDA’s Twitter and Facebook for updates.
 
If you’d like to get involved in the steering group for this campaign please let us know.
WRDA gets out and about on IWD

A number of organisations are having International Women’s Day Celebration  events with  WRDA Community Facilitators providing  information on our award winning Breast Cervical and  Bowel screening Awareness Programme

These include:
  • Footprints Women’s Centre having a health event in The Balmoral Hotel Blacks Road on Wednesday  8 March 10.30 am to 1 pm
  • A Women’s information Event at The Lough Neagh Discovery Centre 2-5 pm being hosted by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
  • Waterside Women’s Centre having a celebration health event in  Clooney Hall, Clooney Terrace, Derry/Londonderry , on Saturday 11 March   1 pm to 3 pm
  • Forthspring  Inter Community Group 373-375 Springfield Rd, Belfast BT12 7DG   Information Day Tuesday 7 March  10  am 1 pm
  • Splash Sure Start Lurgan is having a Family Fun Day  in Links Community Centre 23A Castle Lane, Lurgan, Craigavon BT67 9BD Wednesday 15 March  from 10.30-12.30
Women Campaigning for a Better Belfast
 
Throughout February the women’s sector lobbyist has been facilitating a series of consultation workshops on the Belfast Agenda, Belfast’s first community plan. This ambitious plan for Belfast’s development over the next 20 years will be delivered by a range of statutory partners across all areas of life such as economics, housing, education, community services and infrastructure. Building on the advice contained in the WRDA publication ‘Women Speak Out on Community Planning’ we worked with women’s centres and other grassroots women’s organisations to ensure that the sessions were as accessible and inclusive as possible. We partnered with Shankill Women’s Centre, WOMEN'STEC, Belfast Feminist Network, Windsor Women’s Centre and Falls Women’s Centre to host these sessions and support women to take part.
 
The format was designed to encourage and equip women to tell their stories and connect those to the 4 themes outlined in The Belfast Agenda. These are ‘living here’, ‘growing the economy’, city development’ and ‘working and learning’. As public policy in Northern Ireland moves towards an outcomes based accountability model there is an increasing focus not just on providing baseline statistics as a starting point to measure success, but also on exploring the ‘story behind the baseline’. Women’s organisations have a great deal of experience in demonstrating the ways in which women’s experiences are often not visible when public policy is being shaped. Therefore this project was a way of bringing women’s stories to the fore and feeding into the public consultation on The Belfast Agenda. We heard incredibly important stories about the need for childcare, the state of housing in some communities, the confidence that women gain from learning in women-only settings, the way the city’s public transport makes it hard for women to feel safe, the barriers to work created by the restrictions of the tax credit system, and much more.
 
This project was designed to build the capacity of participants and help them gain experience to tell their story. We wanted each woman to be offered an experience where she knows that her story is valuable and important to bringing about real change. In this way we may be able to encourage women to become more actively engaged campaigners within their own communities. The next step will be to design a toolkit for women’s groups and public authorities that uses what we have learnt to guide future participation work with women.
Are you a member of WRDA?

WRDA is a membership organisation. We exist for the benefit of our members, representing their interests and informing them of the latest issues affecting the women’s sector. We ensure that our members have a meaningful say in our work through contributing to our policy submissions and attending our events. Additional benefits of membership include the opportunity to promote news and events through WRDA and an invitation to our Annual General Meeting. 

It's FREE to join here.
Call for Research Papers and Reports
 
WRDA are currently undertaking the design and development of a new website. This website will be launched in the new year enhancing users experience and flow of communication. Our new website will feature an e-library of research and reports giving our members an opportunity to promote their work and a resource for those undertaking new pieces of research.

If you have recently undertaken a piece of research or would even like to feature past research papers please contact info@wrda.net.

All submissions are very welcome!
Funding
 
John Moores Foundation. Deadline: Rolling
Comic Relief Tech vs Abuse initiative funding. Deadline: March 13th
Social Inclusion Grants Causeway Coast and Glens Council. Deadline: 30th June
The Rayne Foundation. Deadline: Ongoing
W G Edwards Charitable Foundation. Deadline: Rolling (next deadline 10th March)
Help the Homeless. Deadline: 15th March

And finally...


Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, @WRDA_team. We'd love to connect with you there! You can also find us on Facebook or visit our website, which covers all the latest women's news.
 
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WRDA · 6 Mount Charles · Belfast, Antrim BT7 1NZ · United Kingdom

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