Women@Work programme continuing to achieve success

BITCI News - Mar 07, 2024

International Women's Day graphic design

7th March 2024, Marking International Women’s Day, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) is highlighting its successful Women@Work programme and urges more businesses to get involved.  

This online programme launched in 2020, offers support to women who have been out of the workplace for a long time. This can include women who have migrated from other countries, those who’ve been engaged in caring responsibilities in the home as well as lone parents hoping to lift their family out of the welfare poverty trap. Over the last four years, the majority of women on the programme have proven to have a high level of education with some professional experience and demonstrate incredible commitment and drive to return to the workplace.  

Gail Fitzgerald, Women@Work Programme Manager said “These women returners always inspire me because they have overcome significant challenges and are determined to succeed in their goal to become financially independent and act as role models to their own children. The barriers to returning to work include lack of self-confidence, not having sufficient work experience as required by employers, absence of a professional network and poor access to childcare. With the support of our business partners, the Women@Work programme offers practical guidance by connecting these women to other successful women in business which addresses some of the barriers facing them”.  

Our long-term business contributors such as PM Group, Fidelity and Northern Trust, give our women returners much needed self-confidence and the reassurance that they can do it. These companies understand that it takes commitment and structure to successfully transition back into employment and negotiate the change in family life. 

We can see that when women support women, they can overcome insurmountable challenges. A particularly inspirational story is the journey of Sylvie who joined Women@Work in 2021 as a lone mother living in direct provision in a rural area with two primary school age children. Initially her opportunities seemed extraordinarily limited because she had no car or family support. Her dream was to become a nurse and through coaching and planning Sylvie eventually secured employment in a local care home that ran a bus service. With the help of the Women@Work small business donations, she received a grant to subsidise the cost of the bus and childcare. In addition to this, she pursued a medical course through her local adult education provider, moving to a night shift for work and studying in the mornings while her children were at school.

Upon completion of training and two years of work experience, she was successful in securing a place on a Mental Health nursing degree course in a Dublin university. Philanthropic support for fees and a further BITCI small grant meant that she could participate in and travel to her course. On realising her goal to become a nurse, she shared the one thing that kept her going was showing her daughters the value of education and work. Her children are so proud she is going to be a nurse. Sylvie and her children are still living in the direct provision centre but their world and future has been completely transformed.  

Other businesses can support this programme by: 

  • Showcasing how women can reskill to enter their sector and feature stories from women returners in their own organisation. 
  • Offering expertise by co-creating and sharing e-learning modules on how women returners can succeed in job searching and recruitment in the current jobs market.  
  • Donate funds to support the delivery of the Women@Work programme to enable BITCI to offer more support online so more women regardless of their location, mobility or care responsibility can participate.  

On this International Women’s Day, it is worth taking a moment to consider how we view women in our world. When women thrive economically, their families and society reap the benefit of this. Women are not a minority group, nor are they dependents. It is our goal on Women@Work to continue to expand our programme so more women can be supported in successfully returning to work and their families and communities can continue to thrive in their locality.  If you are a business or professional who would like to support this growth, please get in touch by emailing gfitzgerald@bitc.ie. 


For more information please contact June Tinsley, Head of Communications on 086 7733221.