Our History

Established in 2002, Women’s Collective Ireland (WCI) is a national organisation that works directly with and represents the interests of grassroots women from communities in rural and urban settings throughout Ireland.

Formerly known as The National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN), our organisation works on the ground supporting women through a feminist and community development approach.

We are fully funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to advance equality for women experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation. WCI works nationally and locally through its 17 Women’s Community Development Projects based around the country, with 55 staff.

From 2002 to 2010, WCI was a networking organisation whose membership was made up of women’s community development organisations and groups. The purpose of the organisation was to enable women experiencing disadvantage, to network and have a voice in national policy developments, consolidating many years of informal feminist networking and information sharing in the women’s community sector, dating back to the 1990s. This networking arose from a shared concern to address women’s poverty, the marginalisation and exclusion of women, and the need for a gender perspective in community development. The women’s community development movement has played a pivotal role in Ireland and worldwide in highlighting the factors that have shaped the lives and experiences of women living in poverty and disadvantage. Women’s role in community development is transformative in its very nature. On the one hand, this has given visibility to and an analysis of women as marginalised, disempowered and oppressed; while on the other hand, it also made visible the critical role that women play as the mainstay of local communities through their involvement in community development activities.

In September 2010, in the response to policy changes that saw the merger of the community projects funded under the Community Development Programme with their Local Development Companies, WCI and 17 of its member organisations successfully lobbied to remain outside these arrangements. This resulted in WCI being assigned responsibility for targeting actions and strategies to advance women’s equality using community development approaches to working with women in 17 local communities. WCI was required to alter its structure from a networking organisation with a number of local member organisations throughout the country who were legally constituted in their own right, to a national structure with 17 constituent women’s projects under the legal auspices of WCI with 55 employees.

In January 2016, following further policy changes and an extensive WCI lobbying campaign, responsibility for core funding and monitoring the work of WCI, was transferred from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to the Department of Justice and Equality. This work involves the delivery of a Women’s Equality & Development Programme (WEDP) aimed at enhancing the social inclusion of women in communities and promoting equality for women.

On 7 April 2022, we officially launched a new name, visual identity, and strategic plan – going forward as “Women’s Collective Ireland”, and are now funded under the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.