Northern Ireland: The Significance of a Bottom-Up Women’s Movement in a Politically Contested Society
Monica McWilliams and Avila Kilmurray
Women’s activism played an important role in conflict transformation in Northern Ireland, from the early civil rights activists to the development of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party. This chapter follows the history of activism in Northern Ireland, using the trajectory to illustrate how the exclusion of women from formal institutions resulted in a women’s movement that became an alternative means for creating change. It identifies important characteristics of women’s activism, including a willingness to build broad alliances in civil society and framing tactics that brought gender-specific interests to the peace process and the Good Friday peace agreement. As the chapter examines the successes and challenges of the post-conflict women’s movement in Northern Ireland, it reflects on the power of creativity and innovation in altering institutional dynamics during times of transition.