The Good Friday Agreement negotiations gave a unique opportunity for the insertion of women’s rights and equal formal representation in the new post-conflict Northern Ireland. Notwithstanding the robust and unambiguous commitments in the text of the agreement, the primary architects of the peace process, however, situated gender and women’s position as peripheral to the main priorities of ‘guns and government’. While conventional forms of peacebuilding claim to be beneficial for all, evidence from the so-called ‘post-conflict’ period around the world demonstrates a continuity of violence for many women, as well as new forms of violence. This article explores the position of women in Northern Ireland today across a number of issues, including formal politics, community activism, domestic violence and reproductive rights. By doing so, it continues feminist endeavours seeking to problematise the ‘post-conflict’ narrative by gendering peace and security. While the Good Friday Agreement did undoubtedly provide the potential for a new era of gender relations, 20 years on Northern Irish society exhibits all the trademarks and insidious characteristics of a patriarchal society that has yet to undergo a genuine transformation in gender relations. The article argues that the consistent privileging of masculinity and the dominance of male power is a commonality that remains uninterrupted by the peace process.
- Northern Ireland