Women's Leadership Programme


Through Glencree’s experiences in conflict and post conflict societies, we have come to learn that women in these typically patriarchal and militaristic societies often see themselves as responsible for their families' welfare and safety. In the Northern Ireland context, low levels of education and opportunity, the threat of violence, issues of mental health, stress and suicide, can leave women in marginalised communities with little chance to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of those around them. The political impasse of recent years coupled with Brexit uncertainties have hampered socio-economic development, and put pressure and tension on intra and inter community relationships. In this environment, many women are yet again left without a voice.

As a firm advocate of UN Resolution 1325, which recognises the value and importance of the role of women in peace-making, and as a member of the National Women's Council of Ireland, Glencree supports the Third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. This plan emphasises the need to fully recognise the contribution that women can and do make to bringing sustained peace in marginalised communities.


This Courageous Women podcast features interviews with community leaders in Northern Ireland who have found mutual respect through deep dialogue and critical thinking at Glencree. Participants discuss the issues stemming from the legacy of the conflict and what needs to change to create a more peaceful society.

Programme Summary

The Glencree Women’s Leadership Programme focuses on developing networks and relationships with, and between, women in marginalised communities who have been affected by political conflict. It supports them, as community leaders, in addressing the barriers to their voices being heard and in gaining more equal access within the political decision-making arena.

This programme is an all-island initiative. It works with women’s groups from diverse communities within Northern Ireland and across Ireland North and South. It includes women from different generations, traditions, ethnicities, and those who have come from conflict zones elsewhere in the world.

Through providing safe spaces, facilitating dialogue, mediation and peer coaching, the Women’s Leadership programme builds networks and relationships between these women around common issues and interests and provides a forum for collaboration, shared learning, and support. The aim of these practices is to empower participants to become more confident and effective members of civil society, with a voice in both grassroots and high level consultative processes, and at the negotiation and decision making table.

Programme Activities

Glencree's Women’s Leadership Programme engages and empowers women through:

  • learning and capacity building (mediation skills)
  • network support (peer coaching)
  • confidence in finding and using their voices (women's empowerment).

The programme provides grassroots training and seminars that focus on conflict and the aftermath, and prejudice-reduction work.

Following an external evaluation of the Programme in 2018, the following activities have taken place:

  • Strategic Think-In

Maintaining relationships and supporting the voice of past Women’s Programme participants, while at the same time reaching out to a diverse, new generation of women eager for an equal voice in decision making at all levels, Glencree hosted a Strategic Think-In. Representatives of women’s organisations from communities in Northern Ireland who are engaged in peace-building joined academics, educators, community workers and cross-border social policy analysts to share their views and insights on the issues impacting the daily lives of women and the communities they represent.  Learnings from the Think-In were subsequently integrated into shaping the future direction of the Women’s Leadership Programme

  • Women Peace and Security

As an advocate of UN Resolution 1325, and a member of the National Women's Council of Ireland, Glencree’s Women’s Leadership team made a submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade public consultation on the Third National Action Plan. The submission drew on experiences of working with women in conflict and post conflict communities in Northern Ireland and internationally, and from those who are now in the asylum process living in Direct Provision having fled conflict zones

  • Women’s Dialogue event

Women involved in peace-building and community development from North and South, including women from other conflict zones around the world now living in Ireland, met at Glencree for a facilitated dialogue event during which experiences were shared and the path to empowerment in the decision making process was examined.

  • One-day Workshops and Conferences

The Women’s Leadership Programme hosted a women’s wellness event at Glencree to celebrate International Women’s Day; the team also participated in the “Politics Needs Women’ national conference of the Department of Justice & Equality; and, the “Healing the wounds after Brexit: Rebuilding relationships on the island of Ireland” conference of the Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations Conference

  • “Towards an equal voice for women in peacebuilding on the island of Ireland” cross-border Women’s residential workshop

This workshop was hosted for women leaders from diverse communities, North and South, representing a variety of women’s groups, refugees, asylum seekers, and from the LGBT community. Dr Heidi Reilly, Assistant Professor in International Relations, UCD, provided a gender lens on peace-building work and the intersection of gender, class, age, and race in the context of the UN Women, Peace and Security agenda. Facilitator, Petra Oorthuijs, coach/trainer and lecturer in Leadership and Innovation in Letterkenny LYIT, used a variety of creative methodologies including mime, movement and song, to enable participants to explore and experience their voice and embodied power. Participants spoke about their peacebuilding work and the communities they represented, and how they envisaged the application of UN Resolution 1325 across both jurisdictions in this context. The workshop developed skills which furthered a sense of empowerment, purpose, trust and solidarity within the group. A Closing Circle captured the essence of the residential, the learnings, the desire for further connections and collaborations in what was agreed is a crucial time politically and socially, for peacebuilding work on the island of Ireland, and for women in particular.

  • Introduction to Mediation Course

Engaging women from across the communities both north and south, this course adapted a fun and interactive approach to examining the principles, processes, essential skills and strategies involved in mediation. Facilitated by Catherine O’Connell of Blossom Development, it also introduced the five different styles and appropriate uses of conflict management. Participants took part in exercises and group work as they learned to develop their own conflict management and mediation skills.


The Project Team

Louise Keating

Women Leadership Programme Manager

Louise has a background in youth and community work, training and facilitation, intercultural integration and homelessness. She has also been engaged with migrant and refugee issues for over 20 years. Louise has worked with Foroige, Comhlamh, South County Dublin Partnership and Focus Ireland. She spent two years in both Kenya and Rwanda before returning to Ireland where she worked for the Irish Refugee Council. She later managed an Intercultural Drop-in Centre established by Tallaght Intercultural Action. Louise holds a Degree in Social Science, a Diploma in Community Work and an MA in Cross Professional Supervision.
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