Convened by Dr. Salome Mbugua, Akina Dada wa Africa (AkiDwA) embarked on its journey in 1999 as a support group. It hosted a series of regular meetings for African migrant women in Ireland to discuss and share their experiences, focusing on challenges like isolation, racism, employment, and domestic violence. Supported initially by the Catherine McAuley Centre of the sisters of Mercy in Dublin, AkiDwA had, by 2003, implemented more formal structures and was registered as a company with guarantee but without capital share. Despite limited funding, which meant much of the work continued on a voluntary basis, AkiDwA received significant financial support from the One Foundation Social Entrepreneur Scheme in 2005, propelling the organization's mission and vision forward.

By 2007, AkiDwA had secured substantial funding resources, acquired charitable status, and developed its first strategic plan. In 2008, acknowledging the diversity of migrant women in Ireland, AkiDwA expanded its focus from exclusively African women to all migrant women residing in Ireland. A 2018 evaluation and review reaffirmed AkiDwA's position as a highly respected, credible, and relevant organization, celebrated for its unique expertise and long-standing commitment in the field. AkiDwA stands out as a migrant-led, national women’s representative organization.

Despite creating a robust platform for migrant women and effecting significant changes in their lives, policy, and integration over the last two decades, migrant women continue to confront numerous challenges. Research indicates that, despite being highly qualified and educated, migrant women often find themselves limited to employment in the care work and hospitality sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the disproportionate impact on migrant women globally, with lockdowns exacerbating existing inequalities. For instance, those international protection  applicants living in direct provision centres, faced increased risks of domestic violence and COVID-19 spread due to their living conditions and economic disparities.

In 2022, AkiDwA celebrated its 20th anniversary, launching a strategic plan in March that emphasized collaboration and partnership. Moving forward, bigger and better.  AkiDwA is committed to building an integrated society where everyone is valued, treated with respect and dignity, and enjoys equal opportunities and protections.

Over two decades, AkiDwA has gained recognition as a leading NGO for highlighting the issues. faced by migrant women in Ireland. AkiDwA and its partners have made great strides towards. creating an equitable society for migrant women. Our distinctive position as one of the leading non-profit organisations in Ireland was further attested when at The Essence Award 2021, we were named “Charity of The Year”. As we stride forward into our third decade, it is an opportune time for us to consolidate our strengths and identify opportunities for sustainable growth and development, steering the organisation to the next level of excellence”. Cllrs Uruemu Adejinmi, AkiDwA Chairperson, 2022

For me it all began In August 2001 while working at the Catherine Mc Auley Centre Herbert Street off Baggot Street Dublin. One morning a letter came from a stranger, Salome Mbugua. The seed sown at the meeting between Salome and myself in the wake of the letter gave birth a month later to AkiDwA.  In the footsteps of Catherine, the centre bearing her name was in a position to nurture the seed by providing a room for African women to meet, talk, discuss ideas and make decisions,  this seed on the very same site where Catherine had built her House of Mercy all those years ago. Salome’s dream of empowering African women of the 21st century corresponded very closely to Catherine’s dream for women and children of her time. Sr Joan McManus, 2011

“AkiDwA deserves recognition for its promotion of the equality of migrant women in Irish society. Whether it is through its advocacy activities, its capacity building, or its policy work, AkiDwA has been there to provide support to those who need it and to help them participate fully in everyday life” Minister David Stanton, 2016”.

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