On 13 April a conference on ‘Women and Conflict: from 1916 to the Good Friday Agreement’ was held in Dublin City University as part of the Centenary Programme. This conference organised by Dr. Eileen Connolly and Dr. Aurelie Sicard for the IICRR, gathered scholars and civil society activists to discuss the role of women in the Irish State and in international settings since 1916.
In his welcome address, Professor John Doyle talked about the significance of the Rising and explained the decision to focus the conference theme on the role of women while pointing out that 1916 can be understood as the moment of hope and he linked this to the rationale for this specific event and how focusing on the mostly-overlooked role of women can contribute to the debate about the relationship between women and politics.
In the first panel, Ann Mathews (Historian, author and playwright), Leeann Lane (St Patrick’s College, DCU), Marnie Hay (St Patrick’s College, DCU) and Eileen Connolly (DCU) discussed of “Women in 1916: Activism and Legacy” and how the gender roles attributed to women remained the same after 1916 in spite of some women, including Countess Markievicz and Margaret Skinnider broke from their traditional gender roles.
The second panel “From 1916 to the Good Friday Agreement, debating gender, nationalism and conflict” saw a more direct discussion on Good Friday Agreement, with Dr Robin Whitaker (Memorial University of Newfoundland, also a member of the Women’s Coalition who was involved in the negotiation of the Good Friday agreement) and Bronagh Hinds (Peace Activist and a founding member of the Women’s Coalition who was involved in the negotiation of the Good Friday agreement) who were directly involved in the Agreement discussions. Caitríona Ruane (Sinn Féin Assembly Member and former Minister of Education) for Northern Ireland and Noeleen Reilly (Sinn Féin Councillor, Dublin City Council) brought their own experiences on the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement while reflecting on what the 1916 Rising brought for women.
A concluding panel on “Conflict and Gender – the International Debates” extended the debate concerning women, conflict and activism from the Irish context to the broader international field with Dr. Ken McDonagh (Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction), Dr. Maria-Adriana Deiana (DCU) and Dr. Maura Conway (Voxpol). All highlighted the importance of adopting a gendered perspective when dealing with conflict and post-conflict international debates as only with the inclusion of women in the post-conflict political processes can a durable peace is guaranteed. Dr. Conway pointed to the attention paid to online gender segregation and online gender switching as a practice allowing for women’s inclusion and empowerment among ISIS online recruitment sites and networks, catering for the desire of these women to take up a more active role than is usually allowed to them.
A more detailed report on “Women and Conflict: from 1916 to the Good Friday Agreement” is now available.