Women and Peace Processes

Citation:

de Alwis, Malathi, Julie Mertus, and Tazreena Sajjad. 2013. “Women and Peace Processes.” In Women and Wars, edited by Carol Cohn, 169–93. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Authors: Malathi de Alwis, Julie Mertis, Tazreena Sajjad

Abstract:

Because delegates to the 1998 peace talks in Northern Ireland were chosen through public elections, Monica McWilliams, a Catholic feminist academic from South Belfast, and Pearl Sagar, a Protestant social worker from East Belfast, formed the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) to lobby political parties to include women in their candidate lists. When ignored, they decided to form their own political party and contest the elections. The NIWC only received 1.03 percent of the popular vote but it managed to secure two seats (out of 110) under the quota set aside for minority parties. McWilliams and Sagar were thus able to participate in multi-party negotiations resulting in the intergovernmental Good Friday Agreement which devolved legislative powers to the Northern Ireland National Assembly and brought about a significant de-escalation of violence.
 
During the peace talks in Somalia in 2000, participation was restricted to Somalia’s five clans. As clans were traditionally represented only by men, Somali women found themselves closed out of the negotiations. A cross-clan group of women peace activists, led by Asha Haji Elmi, declared themselves to be representatives of a “sixth clan,” the clan of women, and camped outside the location of the talks, demanding that they be allowed to participate in the formal peace process. They were eventually accepted as participants, and negotiated, among other measures, a gender quota for Transitional Federal Parliament seats and the establishment of a Women’s Ministry. The National Charter they helped draft is considered the best in the region.

Topics: Gender, conflict, Governance, Quotas, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Year: 2013

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