On June 5, 2002, Maureen Murray of The Northern Ireland Women’s Initiative (NIWI) hosted a luncheon at her home in New York City to launch a new fundraising campaign to announce the next phase of DemocraShe, a six-week comprehensive training program in politics, policy and media for women in Northern Ireland. NIWI successfully trained 102 women from eight political parties for the 2001 election cycle. Of that number, nearly 70 were actively involved in a campaign, 31 ran for office (including 4 for MP in Westminster) and 15 were elected.
The non-partisan, non-profit group was founded by New Yorkers, Murray, a Democrat, and Alexandra Lange, a Republican, and Belfast–based Ulster People’s College director Bronagh Hinds (pictured left with Murray). According to Hinds, “over half the population in Northern Ireland is female, but this is not reflected in the male–dominated political culture where only 13% of the Assembly are women. ♦