Women Working for Peace in Northern Ireland
This chapter discusses the emergence of women in the dialogue for political and constitutional change in Northern Ireland. It traces a series of initiatives taken by women since the early 1990s that address both their position in relation to decisionmaking and their influence over policies and programmes. It also looks at initiatives that have led women to challenge existing ways of organising and to seek new structures and arrangements in achieving political stability and lasting peace in Northern Ireland. The chapter refers to the work of the Opsahl Commission, the British and Irish governments' A New Framework for Agreement and the emergence and work of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition.
In January 1995 the Northern Ireland Women's European Platform (NIWEP) and the National Women's Council of Ireland ( NWCI)1 made a joint submission to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, held in Dublin and sponsored by the Irish government. The fundamental plank of their argument was that any new political future had to be built on comprehensive equality among all people, including equality between men and women. "Social, economic, cultural and political inclusion is a basic requirement for any genuinely democratic society", stated the submission, outlining as three key areas for action women's access to participation as citizens, investment plans, and the creation of a new democracy (CSW-NIWEP 1995: 3). The submission also called for the experience, expertise, and creativity of women to be harnessed at an early stage in Northern Ireland's unfolding peace process.