The ICA is affiliated to the Associated Countrywomen of the World (ACWW) http://www.acww.org.uk/ and it is the responsibility of the International Specialist to encourage the Guild to subscribe to the publication “The Countrywoman” and with sanction of the Guild Committee should read out interesting articles and news from the magazine.
The ICA is also the only Irish member of the Confederation of Family Organisations of Europe (COFACE) and she should be aware of the main aims and the mission statement of COFACE and spread this information among her members. COFACE regularly organise conferences and events around Europe that may be of interest to some members. More information can be found under the heading International elsewhere in this website and international officers should have a look at http://www.coface-eu.org/en/ which is the English version of the site.
International officers are responsible for organising a Guild International Month programme. This can be an evening of fun and entertainment from one particular country eg: Spanish Evening enjoying Spanish food and maybe trying a little flamenco dancing. The international officer is also responsible for organising trips to foreign countries should the Guild wish to travel abroad. She should attend events organised by her Federation and at National level. It is also her responsibility to look after and be helpful to foreign visitors who visit the Guild or her area. She should inform herself of places of local interest and any available guides who know the local history and area well.
Some MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) invite ICA members and other national groups to travel to Europe with them to visit sites of interest in various European countries while learning about the structures of the European Parliament and how our role as citizens of Europe can be enhanced by active participation in referenda and European elections.
The International officer should liaise with her Federation on international events in her county and at National level.
The ICA is affiliated to the Associated Countrywomen of the World. The organisation represents 9 million women through its 450 member societies in over 70 countries.
The aim of ACWW is to raise the standard of living of rural women and families through education, training and community development programmes. They also aim to provide practical support to its members and help them set up income-generating schemes as well as giving rural women a voice at international level through its links with UN agencies. The ICA became affiliated to ACWW in 1933 and we were represented at the International Conference in Stockholm and the ICA was a Founder Friend of the ACWW in 1934. The ICA hosted the ACWW Triennial Conferences of 1965 and 1986 and again in 2011 The ICA hosted the European Area Conference in 2011. ICA members can either be individual members of ACWW or some Guilds are group members as well as the National Affiliation. Members regularly travel to European Area Conferences as well as International conferences as far afield as The USA and India.
The ICA is the only Irish Member of the Confederation of Family Organisations of the European Union (COFACE). Founded in 1958 it has been linking family organisations together from all over Europe to discuss and work on issues such as balancing work and family life, children’s wellbeing, solidarity between generations, migrant families, disabled and dependent persons, gender equality, education, parenting, health issues and consumer affairs. With more than 50 member organisations in the Member States of the European Union, COFACE gives a voice to many millions of families at EU level.
The ICA’s involvement began in the early 1960s and our National President Kitty Harlin was also the President of COFACE in the 1970s. The National Officers of the ICA regularly attend Administrative Council meetings, General assemblies and Working Group meetings, conferences and workshops of COFACE in Brussels, and other European Counties.
The COFACE Mission
Family Mainstreaming: COFACE advocates the interest of families to be taken into account in all European Union Policies
Equal Opportunities: between women and men in a cornerstone for the reconciliation of work and family life
Social Inclusion: COFACE advocates for the shaping of European Policies to tackle poverty and social exclusion of families and their members.
Empowerment: COFACE aims to give a voice to all family members as consumers and important actors for sustainable development.
The European Union has a strong influence on the wellbeing of families living in Europe; the European Institutions must therefore give proper consideration to the family dimension of EU policies and initiatives.
COFACE values Non-discrimination and recognises all family forms. It values Pluralism and respects and accepts the different views and approaches to family life of its members and finally it values Democracy, and takes decisions and formulates positions by involving as make stakeholders as possible from its membership via working groups and the larger network.
ICA members are informed of the Associations activities in COFACE by way of the national website and through the Mailing to Members, but members can also look at www.coface-eu.org/en/ to see the latest developments in family policies at EU level.
As the ICA is the only Irish Member of this confederation, or ability to influence EU policies is great and as our National Officers attend and often chair working group meetings, they can actively steer policies in a positive direction for Irish and EU families.