Organisations that support and empower women are encouraged to apply for part of the €1.8 million fund.

The Mná na hÉireann – Women of Ireland Fund has been launched today to empower 1,000 women to secure employment across Ireland over the next three years.

The fund will be delivered by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development

The new fund, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, has been established to give cash grants and support to charitable and social enterprise organisations that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women. Up to €1.8M is to be invested in organisations that provide training, upskilling, education and other services directly to disadvantaged women.

Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Social Innovation Fund Ireland , The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, Anne Finucane, Chairman Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe and Vice Chairman, Bank of America, and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development officially announce the new Mná na hÉireann – Women of Ireland Fund. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

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.

Launching the new ‘Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland’ Fund, An 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 the Social Innovation Fund 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.”

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.

Organisations wishing to apply to the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund can find details on the Social Innovation Fund website with the application period open from today until 18 April 2019.