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Patching Peace

Women’s Civil Society Organising in Northern Ireland

By Katherine Side
Categories: Gender, North Atlantic European Studies, Cultural Studies, Sociology
Series: Social and Economic Studies
Series Number: 76
Paperback : 9781894725231, 304 pages, June 2015

Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables




Chapter 1: Emerging Orthodoxies: Women, Conflict, and Transformation
Chapter 2: Conflict in Northern Ireland: Contested Histories
Chapter 3: Civil Society Organising: Responses to Conflict

Chapter 4 Local Conflict in Moyle: Muted Responses and Silences
Chapter 5: Constrained Democratic Spaces: The Moyle Women’s Forum
Chapter 6: Picturing Politics
Chapter 7: Rethinking Gender, Participation, and Power in Invited Space

Appendix: Constitution, Moyle Women’s Forum



An insightful study of gendered civil society perspectives, with a focus on the Moyle Women’s forum of Northern Ireland.


Throughout Northern Ireland, the term “civil society” refers to community and voluntary sector organisations, many of which are constituted by women as the majority of their membership. This book examines some of the invitations extended to women’s civil society organisations to contribute towards conflict transformation efforts, during the post-Good Friday Agreement period in Northern Ireland. Its focus is a case study approach of the Moyle Women’s Forum (1999-2004), an all-women's, cross-community organisation in the Moyle District, County Antrim.

Although the inclusion of women’s civil society organisations appears to "correct" women's historical exclusion, this book demonstrates that women's inclusion in invited spaces is insufficient to ensure their participation, and recognise their contributions. Their inclusion can subject women's civil society organisations to regimes of governmentality, shaped by persistent gender stereotypes. The author argues that women’s civil society efforts should, instead, actively adopt a "patchwork-like" approach that intentionally extends beyond the limited spaces into which they are invited. With a specific focus on Northern Ireland and its current transition away from the prolonged period of conflict, the book raises key questions about the expectations placed on civil society organisations in the ongoing and complex processes of conflict transformation in Northern Ireland.


"[An] insightful, multi-layered, and absorbing book…"

- Carmel Roulston, The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies

"Patching Peace contributes an exciting, innovative and very inspiring new piece of research to furthering our understanding of gendered civil society perspectives of peace. "

- Melanie Hoewer, Irish Political Studies

"An important analysis of a sometimes ignored (avoided?) topic relating to studies of Northern Ireland. "

- Sean Huddleston, Irish Studies Review