Feminising politics, politicising feminism? Women in post-conflict Northern Irish politics

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2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and the establishment of devolved governance in Northern Ireland. Yet, whilst devolution has largely been held to have positive effects in Scotland and Wales with regards to both women’s descriptive and substantive representation, this impact has been less discernible in Northern Ireland. Of the four regions of the United Kingdom, politics in Northern Ireland is arguably the most unfeminised—women have routinely seen lower descriptive representation in the Northern Irish Assembly and policy-making in areas such as reproductive rights lies far behind the rest of the UK. The article explores why politics is so unfeminised in the post-conflict context in Northern Ireland, by looking at efforts to feminise formal politics (especially the various peace/inter-party agreements and attempts to include women in formal politics) and efforts to politicise feminist activism (the work of the women’s sector to influence policy-making in the province). It then explores some of the academic explanations as to why the feminisation of politics remains so difficult in Northern Ireland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-197
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Gender
  • Northern Ireland
  • Peace agreements
  • Post-conflict
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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