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Women urged to write the next chapter in ambitious new civic empowerment initiative

7th March 2018

Women of all ages and backgrounds have a vital role to play in the next generation of peace building and reconciliation work - that was the message this morning as Northern Ireland Assembly Women’s Caucus Chair Paula Bradley MLA and Deputy Chair Megan Fearon MLA urged women to register their interest to participate in The Next Chapter, an ambitious and exciting civic empowerment programme which gets underway in June of this year.

Powered by Politics Plus in conjunction with Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), Irish Rural Link and supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), The Next Chapter will run a series of training, coaching, mentoring and empowering programmes for women living and working in towns, cities and rural areas across Northern Ireland and border counties in the Republic of Ireland.Match funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland and the Executive Office in Northern Ireland.

Speaking in advance of International Women’s Day, Head of Programmes Joanne Jennings said: "The future success of politics and peace-building here in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland relies on increasing the number of women involved in community, public and political life. This exciting programme - called The Next Chapter - will see dedicated training, coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities delivered exclusively to women. Our ultimate aim is to give women of all ages and backgrounds the confidence to enter public and political life and build a society where peace and reconciliation is strengthened and where positive social change is delivered. I would urge all women who are interested in taking part to register their interest at www.thenextchapter.eu.”

The Next Chapter will see ten groups established across Northern Ireland and border counties of the Republic of Ireland through which skills development will be provided. As well as training in communication, conflict management and resolution, accessing power and influencing decision making, presentation skills and media engagement, participants will also work with at least one political or local representative who will provide additional support and guidance. Participants will also receive help in identifying how they can positively deliver change in their own areas.

Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Women’s Caucus Paula Bradley MLA said: "Taking the first steps into public or political life can be a daunting experience for women and it is vital that we remove all barriers for those who wish to represent their communities. I am delighted to support this initiative which will see training and support provided to women so that they can become representatives who can give a voice to and effect change in their communities.”

Deputy Chair of the Women’s Caucus Megan Fearon MLA added: "The work of building peace and reconciliation among all of us who live here can only be helped by increasing the level of representation of women in public life and The Next Chapter aims to provide vital skills and training to make this happen. I welcome the announcement of this initiative and would urge women in these areas to make sure they sign up and take part.”

Further information can be found at www.thenextchapter.eu and the programme itself will be underway by June 2018.

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