International Women's Day 2023
Women’s innovation, leadership and creativity is key to the success of our low carbon future.
International Women’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the women in our local businesses and communities who are excelling in creativity and innovation. Whether you are a sole trader or a CEO, as a woman, you are likely to face unique challenges.
As I travel around Laois, Offaly and further afield, I meet many women in business, from those generating employment for themselves or perhaps a small number of employees, to those in senior management in Irish and international companies.
Last summer, for example, I met with Gretchen Donovan from Glass Innovations Ltd in Ferbane. Gretchen, we learned this week, is the Overall Winner of the 2023 Offaly County Enterprise Awards and will now represent Co. Offaly and Local Enterprise Office Offaly at the National Enterprise Awards in June.
Women like Gretchen inspire me.
I know from talking with women and from my personal experience that it can be a lonely path at times. I am always heartened, therefore, when I see collectives of women who support each other. Government can and does facilitate peer support and incubation networks but it is the participants who make the magic happen.
The Department of Agriculture, where I am a Minister of State, runs the ACORNS programme for early-stage, female entrepreneurs in rural areas. Research showed that recent participants doubled their combined turnover to €3.1 million in six months and staffing increased by 19%. I have met many who have participated in ACORNS and all the feedback is positive with networks lasting indefinitely.
Through agencies like your Local Enterprise Office, The ETB and Enterprise Ireland, we in Government are supporting you because we recognise that Ireland’s economic success will be driven by optimising all our skills and talent. Increasing the participation of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership is key to this objective.
As a Green Party politician with a clear focus on building a sustainable, low carbon future, I believe the wellbeing benefits for everyone, of all ages, will be remarkable. It is my belief that we will look back in 20 years and say ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?’. Women, it is our participation, our innovation and leadership across all sectors and all of society that holds the key to this success.