Press Statement - Inspiring women leading the way as nominations are announced for GLOBAL CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD

20 april 2015





The inaugural Dóchas Awards ceremony will take place at the Dóchas Annual Conference on the 7th May in Croke Park

The Dóchas Awards celebrate inventive, innovative and inspiring work by people and organisations in Ireland working for global justice. In Ireland and around the world there are people leading the way in their passion and commitment to global justice, and are inspiring others to do the same.

The winner of the Global Citizen of the Year Award, as well as the Innovative Programme of the Year Award, will be announced at the Dóchas Annual Conference on May 7th. The host of the conference will be RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan with a keynote address from the founder of Storyful Mark Little and Microsoft’s Technology Advisor for Partnerships for the United Nations International Organisations Kate Krukiel.

The theme of the conference is innovation. As part of the European Year for Development 2015 Dóchas, the umbrella body of Irish Development NGOs, is hosting the first ever Dóchas Awards to celebrate innovation in the development sector. 

The Shortlisted Nominees for the Dóchas Global Citizen Award are:

Heydi Foster, Misean Cara

Heydi Foster Breslin is CEO at Misean Cara, a recipient of Irish Aid funding, with an annual budget of E16 million, working with missionaries to deliver services in 50 of the poorest countries in the world. Heydi, a Harvard Graduate is a Presidential appointee to the Human Rights and Equality Commission, where she acts as Commissioner. Born in Guatemala, Heydi was displaced during the civil war. She worked in Mexico and Boston with vulnerable migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers, children and women and girls in prostitution, providing key support services. She furthermore influenced policy via lobbying and advocacy campaigns. She founded an inner city school to meet the educational needs of low income Latino and African-American students in Boston.  She moved to Ireland in 2006 leading Exchange House National Travellers Services in its work to improve opportunities for Travellers within Irish society.  She has worked globally for over 25 years in addressing the human rights, educational and social needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people across several continents and countries.

‘Heydi’s story is an inspiring example of what can be achieved through belief and determination. Against the odds of fleeing a civil war, finding a new home and starting over, she has dedicated her life to making a difference globally.’- quote from a nomination for Heydi for the Dóchas Global Citizen of the Year Award.

Breda Gahan, Concern Worldwide

Breda Gahan is a Dublin trained Nurse and Midwife (Mater and Coombe Hospitals) with a Masters Degree in Public Health from Liverpool University.  She has worked and lived overseas since 1984 in Iraq, Sudan, Cambodia, and Mozambique, following on with frequent visits to Bangladesh, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and other countries.  For the past 27 years, joining in 1988, she has worked with Concern Worldwide, principally supporting Health and HIV programmes in some of the world’s poorest countries. Breda held the position of Chairperson of the Dóchas HIV and AIDS Working Group from 2006 to 2010.

 ‘Breda is the ultimate Global Citizen – having worked in the development and humanitarian fields for the past 27 years, she has contributed in some of the most difficult contexts imaginable – ranging from emergency responses in Rwanda and Burundi to work in Haiti.’  - quote from a nomination for Breda for the Dóchas Global Citizen of the Year Award.

Paula Galvin

Paula Galvin has been a primary school teacher for the past thirty five years. She has taught in England and at post-primary level in Zimbabwe. Paula`s M.Ed in HRCE dealt with children`s engagement with global justice issues and she spearheaded the campaign to have Fairtrade Town status conferred on Clondalkin in 2014. A recent finalist in the National Volunteer of the Year awards, her classes have also won the Irish Aid Our World Awards on three occasions as well as awards from Integration Ireland,Trocaire and Concern. She is a volunteer with Focus Ireland, and lectures part-time in global citizenship at St Pats, Drumcondra and is a Right Sparks facilitator with Amnesty Ireland.

 “It is a pleasure to nominate Paula for this award in recognition of her tireless commitment to infusing a global dimension into her education and community work. She has a passionate interest in global justice issues and in teaching young children about these issues in the classroom.” – quote from a nomination for Paula for the Dóchas Global Citizen of the Year Award.

Virginia Hardy

At 86 years of age, Virginia has a long history of volunteering. Since retiring from the BBC in Northern Ireland in 1989, Virginia has been volunteering with the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Ethiopia. 

Trained as a shorthand typist in Belfast she has worked in Hong Kong, for the United Nations in New York for 6 years and then for 32 years with the BBC in Northern Ireland. During her 25 years visiting Ethiopia, sometimes for periods of a year to latterly a couple of months, she has been an English teacher, information officer with an urban development project, minibus driver and  numerous other advisory capacities! 

‘Virginia’s solidarity with people in need enables her to be an impressive ambassador for the role of the volunteer. She visited Ethiopia in the 1980s during the most extreme famine that the country has experienced in modern times. On return, Virginia felt inspired to do some volunteer work in Ethiopia after her nearing retirement. She is an inspiring woman.’-quote from a nomination for Virginia for the Dóchas Global Citizen of the Year Award.

Mary Keogh

Mary Keogh has worked for over 10 years at an international level on disability rights and international development. She previously coordinated a European wide research project on monitoring the rights of persons with disabilities in EU member states.  She currently works with CBM -a disability and international development organisation where she provides technical assistance on research, policy and advocacy to their Irish, EU and Australian offices. She has also worked with the UNDP and the World Bank on disability-inclusive development. She holds a PhD in Law and Public policy. Her PhD research contributed to the limited field of research on how disability is mainstreamed in international development. She is also the author of a publication due to be released in late April entitled 'The Future is Inclusive: How to make International Development Disability Inclusive.'

‘Mary has been a powerful voice and strong advocate for people with disabilities, in particular those living in the most vulnerable communities in the world. Her work has had a tremendous influence on government policy and the wider international development sector. She is an inspiration to all who know her, and a most deserving nominee for this award.’ – quote from a nomination for Mary for the Dóchas Global Citizen of the Year Award.


A number of development projects have also been nominated in the category of Innovative Programme of the Year. These are projects and organisations that are leading the way, thinking outside the box, working towards global justice in an imaginative and innovative way.  

And the programme nominations go to:

  • Development Perspectives for their ‘Insight’ programme – Ireland
  • UNICEF for their ‘U-report’ programme – 11 countries
  • Plan Ireland for their programme ‘Improving Birth Registration for Children’s Development and Protection’– Liberia and Sierra Leone
  • Oxfam Ireland for their ‘Female Food Heroes’ programme – Tanzania
  • Trócaire for their ‘Tackling Domestic Violence through working with Faith Communities’ programme- Uganda

Dóchas is the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations, an umbrella group of international development, humanitarian and global justice not-for-profit organisations who share a commitment to tackle poverty and inequality in the world.  

To register to attend the Dóchas Annual Conference on May 7th or for more information, please log on to

For more information about the Dóchas Awards, visit
The nomination process was open to the public. Nominated individuals have been selected based on the criteria that they are actively engaged in an initiative in the area of global solidarity and/or sustainable development, resident in Ireland, and actively broadening the movement of people working for global solidarity. The deadline has now passed for nominations. The shortlist was decided by a panel of adjudicators. The shortlisted nominations have been given to an external jury of eminent persons to decide who will receive the 2015 Dóchas award for Global Citizen and the 2015 Award for Innovative Programme of the Year.

To arrange interviews with any of the nominees or organisers of the awards or for further information please contact Naomi Linehan on  or 01 40538010/ 086 10 77079