Struggling for Peace: How Women in Northern Ireland Challenged the Status Quo

Authored by: Avila Kilmurray and Monica McWilliams

Categories: Peace Support Operations, Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Peacemaking, Political Transitions
Country: Northern Ireland
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2011
Citation: Kilmurray, Avila and Monica McWilliams. “Struggling for Peace: How Women in Northern Ireland Challenged the Status Quo.” The Solutions Journal 2, no. 2 (March 2011).

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Executive Summary

Since the late 1990s women have been struggling for a place at the table in peace accords. The inclusion of women in such negotiations is not merely a question of gender equity but also contributes to an improved negotiating process and the creation of a more durable peace agreement. A new political party established in the midst of a macho conservative culture, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) succeeded in getting elected to the multiparty talks that led to the Belfast Agreement in 1998 (also known as the Good Friday Agreement). The struggle to find solutions so that women’s concerns are not discarded, particularly following the implementation of a peace agreement, should resonate with those working with the UN resolutions on women and peace building. The NIWC’s legacy is its freshness of perspective and solutions-focused approach—much needed in countries coming out of conflict. The coalition’s achievements in creating workable outcomes for the long term should encourage people everywhere who seek solutions in peace negotiations so that they can rebuild their societies.