Loyalist Women Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland: Beginning a Feminist Conversation about Conflict Resolution


McEvoy, Sandra. 2009. “Loyalist Women Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland: Beginning a Feminist Conversation about Conflict Resolution.” Security Studies 18 (2): 262–86. doi:10.1080/09636410902900095.

Author: Sandra McEvoy


Research on war, conflict, and terrorism has traditionally focused on the motivations of male combatants to participate in political violence. Such a focus has largely ignored the role of women who wield political violence. This article revisits one of feminist International Relations (IR) most basic questions, “Where are the women?” and encourages an expanded view of security and conflict resolution that asks how combatant women might contribute to current scholarly understanding of conflict and conflict resolution processes. I argue that the thirty-year conflict remained intractable in part because of the exclusion of those Loyalist women who wielded political violence, seriously limiting the British and Irish governments' ability to understand and resolve the conflict. Included in the analysis is interview data collected in an eight-month empirical study conducted by the author in 2006 with thirty women who identify as past or present members or supporters of Loyalist paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland. The unique perceptions of Loyalist women combatants of four cross-border agreements between 1974 and 2006 are used to illustrate how a feminist approach to conflict resolution can serve as an innovating starting point in theorizing about and attempting to resolve conflict.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Paramilitaries, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2009

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.