Owning the process: Public participation in peacemaking
Publication date: 
2002
Accord issue: 
13
Author: 

In a politically and socially divided society, a group of Northern Irish women became a channel for cross-community cooperation and gained a voice in the peace negotiations. 

The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, born from a group of unionist and republican NGOs, formed a political grouping to contest elections. Winning one per cent of the vote, they gained two seats at the negotiating table, where they put forward an all-woman, cross-community team.

The involvement in the negotiations not only facilitated and promoted women’s participation, it also demonstrated the possibility that civil society can participate in and influence formal political negotiations. 

Kate Fearon 

Kate Fearon describes how they promoted an inclusive, cooperative process, put women’s participation on the political map and brought a civil society voice to the negotiations.

Although not a dominant force in forging the Belfast Agreement they influenced the political culture and in promoting peace and reconciliation, eventually becoming a permanent political party