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AkiDwA is a minority ethnic led national network of migrant women established in 2001 as a not-for-profit organisation in Ireland. The organisation emerged from discussions and meetings among a group of African women, coming together to share their collective experiences of living in Ireland, and in particular, feelings of isolation and exclusion, experiences of race discrimination in employment and access to services, and issues in relation to gender based violence. The organisation brings a gender perspective to issues of migration, to inform policy and practice, and adopts an advocacy based approach. This work is centred on hearing and strengthening the voices of migrant women and addressing the barriers they face in terms of integration in all aspects of social, cultural, economic, civic and political life. AkiDwA has over 2,250 individual members from some 35 counties in Ireland and has gained recognition as a leading non-governmental organisation in Ireland reviewing key legislation, policy and practice, and proposing reforms in relation to issues faced by all migrant women. In August 2012, AkiDwA commissioned Poorman-Skyers Research and Consulting to:a) Undertake a pilot study on young migrant women in Ireland on barriers to integrationb) Locate the study in some of the current literature on gender and migrationc) Identify best practice models of positive integrationd) Develop a series of recommendations targeted at government and non-governmental agencies in Ireland
AkiDwA has led, and been a crucial part of, successful stakeholder campaigns for legislative and policy reform to ensure the rights and entitlements of migrant women and girls living in Ireland. The organisation has held consultative sessions with women and submitted proposed policy and legislation to address arising concerns to State and semi-state structures. One of its key major strength has been the approach of work and direct contact with migrant women. AkiDwA has held focus groups and produced submissions to Government. AkiDwA awareness raising, capacity building programmes and personal support has been delivered to over five thousand migrant womenand four thousand workers in service provider organisations, including medical practitioners and health care professionals.
In 2011 AkiDwA undertook a limited baseline survey to explore the issue of sexual harassment of women seeking asylum and protection living in direct provision settings in Ireland. After the publication of the AkiDwA report 'Am Only Saying It Now: Experiences of Women Seeking Asylum in Ireland', the organisation was invited to meet with COSC, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence and an executive office of the Department of Justice and Equality. At this meeting AkiDwA raised concerns as to the safety and security of women living in some accommodation centres in Ireland. COSC encouraged AkiDwA to document the issue. Accommodation to individuals seeking asylum is provided through the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), a unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and a division of the Department of Justice and Equality.