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The Glencree Women’s Programme

The Glencree Women’s Programme seeks to enhance understanding among women of the complex relationships in Ireland, north and south, and to facilitate the future developments of equality, pluralism and multi-culturalism.  The Programme looks to redress the imbalance of opportunities for women and enables women to play a positive role in the life of their communities. 

There is an overt lack of women in positions of leadership, particularly in politics and business, in Ireland, North and South.  Numerous surveys, studies and research papers detail the inequality between men and women in Ireland North and South and worldwide.  The existence of the ‘glass ceiling’ for working woman has been well researched, documented and debated in Europe and the US.

Click here for more on reflecting on the learning from the women’s programme.

Objectives of the Programme

The overall aim of the Women’s Programme is to enhance understanding among women towards a strong and peaceful civil society on the island of Ireland.

The specific objectives are:

  • To share our own experiences through dialogue;
  • To recognise and challenge our own beliefs and prejudices;
  • To explore peaceful ways to resolve, manage and transform conflict in both the political and community environment;
  • To explore issues of diversity in Ireland, North and South;
  • To grow a network of women who are working towards a stronger and more peaceful civil society;
  • To connect with different women’s groups and organisations so that women will become more actively involved in building peace;
  • To raise awareness of the gender imbalance in Ireland, North and South, and the importance to society of women’s role, specifically in building peaceful communities.

The added value that the Glencree Women’s Programme provides is that it is an all-island initiative of capacity building for women.  There are plenty of women’s groups in communities locally, which are both single-identity and cross-community.  Glencree’s Women’s Programme spans these divisions and includes community groups, women from a variety of religions and traditions, as well as women from Ireland North and South, and not only from the border region.  Additionally, Glencree’s Women’s Programme includes facilitation techniques that have been developed over the past 30 years of peacebuilding and reconciliation work in Ireland.  The skills and knowledge are very relevant to dealing with modern demographic changes, as well as old-fashioned prejudices, and the single-minded views that often grow from isolation.


We begin with the participants, where they are and their life experiences.  Greater emphasis is put on people sharing their experiences and developing relationships between participants.

Our workshops are organized on the basis that we learn by doing; therefore the participants are engaged in a variety of activities that are, in effect, thinking critically and creatively about their own thinking. By participating in the thinking activities provided in the workshop and applying these ideas to their own experiences, they find that their thinking – and language – abilities become sharper and more powerful.

We bring together a group of diverse people working together over a number of weekends.  Each weekend has a particular theme, e.g. Histories and Identities; Self-Esteem and Self Image; Assertiveness; etc. This model has a strong emphasis on personal development.

A residential experience creates a new openness to deal with issues that people find difficult in their ‘home’ territory – often issues of reconciliation and community relations and allows old patterns and ways of viewing one another to change. Such activity can bring challenge and even discomfort to some groups, but new ways can be opened up.

The starting point of this kind of work is the conviction that every adult is responsible for his or her learning process.  The facilitator initiates this process, guards it and tries to shape it.  The goal of this learning process is to enable a person to make a contribution to social change and to the improvement of the situation in which s/he finds them-self.  The person is him/herself part of this process.

The learning process takes place in a group.  This group represents to a certain extent the social and personal situation in which the participants are living, and with a freedom to work on real problems, then an exciting kind of learning occurs. Participants go through a sometimes frustrating but always rewarding process in which gradually responsible initiative, creativity, and inner freedom are released.

Sometimes it may seem not to be going anywhere, participants speak at random, and saying whatever comes into their heads.  One will bring up some aspect of the subject; and the next participant, completely disregarding the first will take the group away in another direction; and a third, completely disregarding the first two, will start fresh on something else altogether. While the workshop proceedings may sometimes seem to lack continuity, the facilitators receive every contribution with attention and regard; we do not find any participants contribution in or out of order. The chaos is an almost inevitable initial phase of learning to be free.

Programme Content

The Women’s Programme training course consists of six weekend modules.

Module 1
Our different histories and identities – How can we educate each other?
Module 1 explores our various personal and community histories and identities.  Part of this module includes teaching other parties the history of our (part of) the country as we were taught it, followed by discussions of how that teaching might have influenced out thinking, biases, prejudices etc.

Module 2
Self-esteem and self-image   - From the Personal to Community and how they reflect on each other
Module 2 looks into the basic building blocks of capacity building, including limiting beliefs, internal dialogue and the use and power of language.  This module also explores our approach to and willingness to change.

Module 3
Assertiveness at Personal, Professional, and Community Level
Module 3 builds on the basis of the previous module looking particularly at behaviours and essential skills for assertive rather than aggressive interactions. At core, our ability to behave in an assertive manner is related closely to our self-esteem.

Module 4
Alternative Dispute Resolution  - Principled Negotiation
Module 4 is based on the Harvard model of principled negotiation and includes a short introduction to mediation skills, building on these negotiation skills. With an emphasis on gender, while simultaneously building the capacity of individual women, the course provides women with skills and knowledge about conflict transformation and strengthens their analytical skills.

Module 5
Difference and Diversity – Valuing Difference and Managing Diversity
Module 5 has specific focus on the differences and diversity of background, and the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Module 6
Managing Conflict and Non-Violent Communication
Module 6 looks at intra-personal and inter-personal conflict to gain an understanding of our responses to conflict.  This module uses Marshall Rosenberg’s NVC model, also called Compassionate Communication.

If you would any futher information please submit the form below.



Contact: Phil Killeen,

Website supported by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation
Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is a company limited by guarantee in the Republic of Ireland; Company Number: 50088 and registered charity number: CHY5943; and a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales under charity number 1137390 and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, company number 7152448. The registered address in Ireland is: Glencree, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Company Directors: Mary Curtin, Denise Collins, Debbie Donnelly, John Flood, Bronagh Hinds, Colin Murphy, Turlough O'Donnell, Andy Pollak, Barbara Walshe (Chair).