Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Timothy D. Sisk, Ph.D.


Conflict, Northern Ireland, Peacebuilding, Women


International norms on intrastate conflicts, such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, call for women to participate in peace processes in countries emerging from conflict and civil strife, including those divided by identity-based conflict. However, scholars of post-war recovery in international relations and comparative politics have raised questions about the extent and effect of women’s participation in peace processes, and in politics more generally, in divided societies given underlying social, economic, and political barriers that impeded access to decisive or authoritative political decision-making. A critical question in the literature on women’s participation in post-conflict reconciliation-related dialogue and joint action relates to whether intragroup “community development” focusing principally on social and economic concerns can contribute to fostering women’s participation in intergroup reconciliation and peacebuilding. This study explores the experiences of community development in Northern Ireland with the research question: How and under what conditions do women contribute to peacebuilding? The research represents formal interviews with experts in the community and voluntary sector and the women’s sector, informal focus groups, and six months of ethnographic field research based primarily in Belfast. Northern Ireland is a case of protracted social conflict in which the society is still deeply divided, despite successful implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Women played a significant role in the peace process by forming their own political party—the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition—and yet are poorly represented in political institutions today. Instead, women dominate the field of community development contributing to peace through capacity-building and other bottom-up practices. Women pursue community development in this case for two broad reasons: first, because it is not political in the formal institutional sense; second, in an environment where women are expected to play traditional roles, community development is interpreted as an extension of these roles allowing women to navigate through the constraints of a gendered public space and employ their roles as women to seek change that does not threaten the political status quo.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Amanda E. Donahoe

File size

297 p.

File format





Peace studies, Women's studies