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Abstract

While much has been written about the importance of women’s groups in the developing world, less is known about whether such groups have relevance in western societies. In Ireland, women’s groups played a key role in challenging inequality and bringing about positive social change for women in society and were an intrinsic part of community development activity. However, in recent years, policy support for women’s groups has reduced. In order to assess whether women’s groups continue to have relevance in contemporary Irish society, this paper explores members perspectives regarding their experiences of being part of a rural women’s group in the midlands of Ireland established by a local Family Resource Centre. The study involved one-to-one qualitative interviews with group members, with emerging themes centring on mental health and well-being; increased self-confidence; community and social integration and impact on children and families. On the basis of these findings, it is argued that social support groups should be supported due to their benefits for individuals, children and families and for the wider community.

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