We were very sad to hear this news today.
21st February, 2012
Dear members and friends,
We are writing with great sadness to inform you that the Executive Committee of Banúlacht have taken the very difficult decision to close Banúlacht with effect from March 31st. This decision was taken because of a number of factors that have combined to make it impossible to continue to do our work according to our feminist ethos.
Banúlacht was founded in 1990 and over the years our work was funded by many different funders, including the EU Commission, Concern, various government departments, WIDE, the Joseph Rowntree Trust and others. Our focus on linking the local and global, our feminist ethos and our role within the women’s community development sector has never been easy for funders to categorise, and this, in parallel with a changing funding environment, has meant that maintaining a diverse funding base has always been a struggle. In spite of all our efforts to access funding from other sources, the organisation has been funded only by Irish Aid and Trócaire since 2009. Over the last two years, however, Banúlacht’s funding from Irish Aid fell by 42% and funding has been reduced by 52% in total. Trócaire, after consistently funding the organisation for 20 years, declined to fund Banúlacht in 2011. This withdrawal of funding has left Banúlacht more financially vulnerable and dependent on Irish Aid.
At a policy level, Irish Aid suspended its multiannual funding scheme in 2009 and in 2011 carried out a review of its funding of development education. In the last few years there has been a marked shift in Irish Aid’s approach away from an understanding of development education as facilitating activism to its current position in the 2012 guidelines which stipulates that funding cannot be used for campaigning and advocacy work.
Since its foundation, Banúlacht, in consultation with women’s organisations in Ireland and the global South, has worked to facilitate the engagement of grassroots women and women’s community development organisations in advocating for the realisation of women’s human rights at local, national and international levels. This ethos is defined in our Feminist Principles and our Strategic Plan and underlies all our work—our training, our economic literacy programme, our ExChange programme, the Mná Sasa Manifesto, our conferences and website, our links with organisations such as Kivulini, our participation in networks and alliances, such as the Women’s Human Rights Alliance and our publications. Dependence on Irish Aid, in the absence of other sources of funding that could be used for more critical policy focused work, would effectively require us to abandon the advocacy dimension of the above work and our ethos as a feminist organisation.
After much deliberation and with a heavy heart, we have decided that compromising our feminist principles for the sake of funding goes against the integrity of the organisation and our mission and vision. We therefore have decided not to apply for Irish Aid funding, which means the closure of Banúlacht after the completion of our current work programme at the end of March.
We know that this will come as a shock to many of you, but we hope that our work will continue, somehow, through the engagement of our members and friends who share our ethos and subscribe to the same feminist principles.
We are inviting members to come together on Saturday March 31st at 3pm, in a Dublin city centre location (venue to be confirmed closer to date), to celebrate Banúlacht’s work and to provide a space for you to look at how feminist global solidarity work, and the Mná Sasa Manifesto in particular, can continue.
Gráinne Begley, Eileen Smith
Banúlacht-Women in Ireland in Global Solidarity
20 Lower Dominick St, Dublin 1
Tel: +353 (0)1 872 3039