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Microsoft in your community

Providing a valuable path to continued social justice education in Dublin

The Ronanstown Women’s Community Development Project (CDP) is a feminist organization in Ireland committed to affecting change for those experiencing social exclusion by enabling them to become active agents in their community. The group implements this through community education and development, providing life-long learning programs, support, and childcare.

Investing in support mechanisms to drive equality

In 2019, Microsoft provided funding to the Ronanstown Women’s CDP to be used to facilitate the University College Dublin (UCD) Outreach Certificate in Women, Gender, and Social Justice. UCD’s Women and Gender Studies Outreach Program is recognized as an innovative model of community and adult education for women. The program awards a Level 7 certificate, meaning it offers accreditation at certificate and diploma levels and opens the door to further education upon completion.

The certification comprises 20 credits (four modules of five credits each), and completion typically takes 12 to 18 months. Assessment is based upon a variety of factors, including essays, attendance, participation, reflective journaling, and presentations. Modules include Introducing Gender Theory; Justice, Feminism, and Empowerment; Reconnecting People and Voice; and Rediscovering Women in History. Courses will deliver an understanding of social injustice and the representation of gender, both past and present. Students will also learn valuable analytical skills and develop proficiency in written and verbal communication—skills that will transfer to continuing education and, ultimately, the workforce.

Following completion of the certificate, students are eligible for direct entry into four different UCD degree programs, so long as an overall grade C average is achieved. Certificate holders are also exempt from the Mature Student Application Process (MSAP) exam, which can be a barrier for underprivileged students due to its cost and scheduling issues. Lastly, the certificate can offset elective credit requirements in the first year of chosen degree study. This pathway significantly eases the financial burden and time constraints that often prevent students from participating.

Supporting CDP’s mission of women’s engagement

Ronanstown Women’s CDP builds the capacity of local women to participate fully in their communities, and this program aligns with UCD’s goal of social inclusion and increased participation by previously underrepresented student groups. This partnership has created an innovative model that’s optimal for engaging the most educationally excluded and economically disadvantaged groups in society.

In particular, this certificate program aligns with CDP’s goals to provide workforce development and job readiness opportunities, increase diversity and inclusion, and increase youth empowerment. Initally, the program will support 20 women in achieving valuable accreditation, but the impact will be felt beyond the students themselves. A ripple effect will reach individuals who witness their mother, sister, aunt, or partner going through the certificate program, and will be a major influence in encouraging others to explore and continue an educational path themselves.