Who Cares about Gender and Dealing with the Past? #ImagineBelfast15 (updated with audio)

ImagineBelfast15 Gender Dealing with the Past 17Carmel Roulston and (a rather hoarse) Fidelma Ashe presented a lunchtime seminar entitled Who Cases about Gender and Dealing with the Past. Part of the Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics, the lunchtime sessions at UU and QUB are intended to be accessible to the general public and not too academic.

Carmel and Fidelma’s material looked at why gender has tended to be left out of many processes that are looking at the past, and contrasted them with the Haass/O’Sullivan talks [Ed – remember them?!] that engaged with a spectrum of women’s sector groups.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 00.09.37They highlighted that at the Cardiff talks with working class loyalists organised by the PSNI, only 3 of the 34 participants were women (including one from the PSNI and a facilitator).

Women’s voices were absent, a point I made in a post about a Loyalist workshop a couple of years that was discussing Has the Protestant Working Class lost out in the Peace Process?.

  • During the Q&A afterwards, topics included:
  • church influence (and its gender suppression) on our politics and how we deal with the past;
    the gender balance of elected representatives (and whether these are the only roles of power in society);
  • today’s political processes continue the lack of participation and marginalisation of the past;
  • how a woman’s story will tend to be bound back into the dominant (media) narrative.

You may also be interested in the Assembly and Executive Review Committee‘s Report on Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly that was published earlier this week and includes Fidelma’s evidence to the committee.

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  • Joe_Hoggs

    I would say that in general Protestant women do seem to play second fiddle to their male counterparts across NI. Men are extremely reluctant to accept female Orange members even though the ladies have a separate branch to the men. Whilst the OI for men currently nestles in the early 20th century, the female lodges are within the 19th century and lack any initiative, imagination or encouragement to thrive.

    There are a number of promising female Unionist politicians but again the males dominate this field, however politics and work is less than accessible for women who are mothers also and the Protestant ethos is very much for the female to stay at home while the man earns the crust.

    I do think that as a community we undervalue our female counterparts and if we are to survive and thrive they have to be seen as more than baby producing factories.

  • npww

    Who cares? Clearly not the five main political parties who control the NI Executive, if you consider the newly released Report on Women in Politics and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    The Committee concluded:I. The under-representation of women in politics in Northern Ireland is a serious issue which must be addressed as matter of urgency.

    What did the committee recommend as urgent reforms needed to urgently address this urgent issue? A list of gentle suggestions that the parties ‘may’ want to consider going slowly forward into the male-dominated ‘shared future’. They stopped well short of anything resembling change to the status quo. They didn’t recommend a gender-balanced Executive, equal numbers of women ministers to lead the new departments, or that the parties should send gender-balanced delegations to all future ‘Talks’ to negotiate / renegotiate the agreed terms of the ‘power sharing’ government.’ In short, they made a mockery of all those who participated, and demonstrated they have absolutely no understanding of the costs of segregation and exclusion.