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The Shona Project: Waterford organisation for young women and girls nominated for top EU prize

MEPs singled out The Shona Project’s SHINE Festival, which hosted thousands of young students over two days across the country last year, as an initiative worthy of EU-wide praise. The Shona Project was founded by Waterford’s Tammy Darcy.

Waterford-based organisation for young women and girls The Shona Project has been nominated for the European Citizens’ Prize, which is awarded every year by the European Parliament to recognise exceptional achievements by people and groups in the EU.

The organisation was nominated jointly by Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan and supported by Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, who recognised the stellar work The Shona Project has undertaken to build a network of young women and host discussions on a massive range of issues facing young women in Ireland today, from period poverty to racism to the pressures of social media.

In particular the nomination recognised the Shona Project’s work in hosting the SHINE Festival over two days in October of last year. The festival brought together thousands of young women around International Day of the Girl both at an in-person event in Dublin and streamed live into school gyms and sports halls around the country. The festival focused on careers, body positivity, activism and health. A series of videos also paid homage to the late Vicky Phelan, who was a role model for many young women following her campaign for cervical cancer victims.

Speaking from Brussels following the nomination, MEP Grace O’Sullivan said “Founder of The Shona Project Tammy Darcy has long been an inspiration to me, to everyone in Waterford who knows her, and to so many young women and girls across the country, it is only fitting that they are put forward for this award. The Shona Project doesn’t shy away from some of the most important, and most delicate, issues facing young girls today. Women in Ireland still face structural barriers to political participation, to careers and to independence. If you ask me, we need more role models like Tammy and the team at The Shona Project who dedicate their time and effort to build and support the self-esteem of a nation.”

The winners will be decided by a panel of judges from across the EU including MEPs, and will be announced in autumn of this year. In 2022, Nasc Migrant Youth and mental health organisation Jigsaw won the prize for Ireland.

The Shona Project was launched in September 2016 by Waterford woman Tammy Darcy and is named after her sister who passed away earlier this year. The project has distributed over 60,000 copies of its “Survival Handbook for Girls” to individuals and schools since it was founded and continues to host indispensable workshops for young women in Ireland.

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