From the Front-Lines of War to the Sidelines of Peace? Gender, Republicanism and the Peace Process

  • Niall GilmartinEmail author


Though the gendered dichotomy of male-protector/female-protected remains a pervasive representational model of gender roles in armed conflict, feminist scholars have long challenged the dubious links between femininity and ‘peacefulness’ by documenting women’s role as armed activists. Gilmartin’s chapter explores the pressing question of what happens to female combatants after armed conflict. While combatant women in non-state nationalist movements often experience high levels of activism and politicisation during the war period, feminist critiques of nationalism as a patriarchal structure however, often cite post-war regression, among others, as robust evidence of the pitfalls for women’s participation within such highly gendered movements.


  1. Alison, M. (2004). Women as agents of political violence: Gendering security. Security Dialogue, 35(4), 447–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alison, M. (2009). Women and political violence: Female combatants in ethno-national conflict. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. An Phoblacht. (2006). Belfast women’s conference: Raising the profile of women in Sinn Féin. Available at
  4. Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  5. Aretxaga, B. (1997). Shattering silence: Women, nationalism and political subjectivity in Northern Ireland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ashe, F. (2006). The Virgin Mary connection: Reflecting on feminism and Northern Irish politics. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 9(4), 573–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ashplant, T. G., Dawson, G., & Roper, M. (Eds.). (2000). The politics of war memory and commemoration. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Bean, K. (2007). The new politics of Sinn Féin. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Buckley, F. (2013). Women and politics in Ireland: The road to sex quotas. Irish Political Studies, 28(3), 341–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cockburn, C. (1998). The space between us: Negotiating gender and national identities in conflict. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  11. Cohn, C. (Ed.). (2013). Women and wars. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  12. Coulter, C. (1993). The hidden tradition: Feminism, women and nationalism in Ireland. Cork: Cork University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cowell-Meyers, K. (2003). Women in Northern Ireland politics: Gender and the politics of peace-building in the New Legislative Assembly. Irish Political Studies, 18(1), 72–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dowler, L. (1998). “And they think I’m just a nice old lady”: Women and war in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gender, Place and Culture, 5(2), 159–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Enloe, C. (2000). Manoeuvres: The international politics of militarizing women’s lives. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California.Google Scholar
  16. Enloe, C. (2014). Bananas, beaches and bases: Making feminist sense of international politics (3rd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. Forty, A., & Küchler, S. (Eds.). (1999). The art of forgetting. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  18. Frampton, M. (2009). The long march: The political strategy of Sinn Féin, 1981–2007. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  19. Galligan, Y. (2013). Gender and politics in Northern Ireland: The representation gap revisited. Irish Political Studies, 28(3), 413–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gillespie, U. (1994). Women in struggle. Belfast and Dublin: Sinn Féin Women’s Department.Google Scholar
  21. Gilmartin, N. (2015). Negotiating new roles’: Irish republican women and the politics of conflict transformation. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 17(1), 58–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilmartin, N. (2017a). Feminism, nationalism and the re-ordering of post-war political strategies: The case of the Sinn Féin women’s department. Irish Political Studies, 32(2), 268–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gilmartin, N. (2017b). “Without Women, The War Could Never Have Happened”: Representations of women’s military contributions in non-state armed groups. International Feminist Journal of Politics. Available at: Scholar
  24. Graham, B., & Whelan, Y. (2007). The legacies of the dead: Commemorating the troubles in Northern Ireland. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25, 476–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jacobs, S., Jacobson, R., & Marchbank, J. (Eds.). (2000). States of conflict: Gender, violence and resistance. London and New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  26. Keenan-Thomson, T. (2010). Irish women and street politics, 1956–1973. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lorentzen, L. A., & J. Turpin, J. (Eds.). (1998). The women and war reader. New York: New York University.Google Scholar
  28. MacKenzie, M. H. (2012). Female soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, security, and post-conflict development. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maillot, A. (2005). New Sinn Féin: Irish republicanism in the twenty-first century. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McClintock, A. (1993). Family feuds: Gender, nationalism and the family. Feminist Review, 44: 61–80.Google Scholar
  31. McDowell, S. (2007). Armalite, the ballot box and memorialisation: Sinn Féin and the state in post-conflict Northern Ireland. The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 96(3993), 725–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McDowell, S. (2008). Commemorating dead ‘men’: Gendering the past and present in post-conflict Northern Ireland. Gender, Place and Culture, 15(4), 335–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Meintjes, S., Pillay, A., & Turshen, M. (Eds.). (2001). The aftermath: Women in post-conflict transformation. London and New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  34. Moser, C., & Clark, F. (Eds.). (2001). Victims, perpetrators or actors? Gender, armed conflict and political violence. London: Zed Books. Google Scholar
  35. Mukta, P. (2000). Gender, community, nation: The myth of innocence. In S. Jacobs, R. Jacobson, & J. Marchbank (Eds.), States of conflict: Gender, violence and resistance (pp. 163–178). London and New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  36. Nagel, J. (1998). Nation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(2), 242–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Neumann, P. R. (2005). The bullet and the ballot box: The case of the IRA. Journal of Strategic Studies, 28(6), 941–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. O’Keefe, T. (2003). Trading aprons for arms: Feminist resistance in the north of Ireland. Resource for Feminist Research, 30, 39–64.Google Scholar
  39. O’Keefe, T. (2013). Feminist identity development and activism in revolutionary movements. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Porter, E. (1994). Abortion ethics: Rights and responsibilities. Hypatia, 9(3), 66–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Potter, M. (2014). Loyalism, women and Standpoint theory. Irish Political Studies, 29(2), 258–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Power, M. (2010). A republican who wants to further women’s rights’: Women, provisional republicanism, feminism and conflict in Northern Ireland. In G. McIntosh et al. (Eds.), Irish women at war: The twentieth century (pp. 153–170). Dublin and Portland: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  43. Rolston, B. (2003). Changing the political landscape: Mural and transition in Northern Ireland. Irish Studies Review, 11(1), 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ryan, M. (1997). From the centre to the margins: The slow death of Irish republicanism. In C. Gilligan & J. Tonge (Eds.), Peace or war? Understanding the peace process in Northern Ireland (pp. 72–84). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  45. Sales, R. (1997). Women divided: Gender, religion and politics in Northern Ireland. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Side, K. (2009). Women’s civil and political citizenship in the post-good friday agreement period in Northern Ireland. Irish Political Studies, 24(1), 67–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sjoberg, L., & Gentry, C. (2007). Mothers, monsters, whores: Women’s violence in global politics. London and New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  48. Tonge, J. (2006). Sinn Féin and ‘new republicanism’ in Belfast. Space and Polity, 10(2), 135–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wahidin, A. (2016). Ex-combatants, gender and peace in Northern Ireland: Women, political protest and the prison experience. Palgrave Studies in Compromise After Conflict. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ward, M. (1989). Unmanageable revolutionaries: Women and Irish nationalism. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  51. Ward, M. (2004). Times of transition: Republican women, feminism and political representation. In L. Ryan et al. (Eds.), Irish women and nationalism soldiers, new women and wicked hags (pp. 184–201). Dublin: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  52. Ward, R. (2006). Women, unionism and loyalism in Northern Ireland: From tea makers to political actors. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  53. White, R. W. (2017). Out of The Ashes: An oral history of the provisional republican movement. Dublin: Merrion Press.Google Scholar
  54. Whitworth, S. (1994). Feminism and International Relations: Towards a Political Economy of Gender in Multilateral Institutions. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  55. Yuval-Davis, N. (1997). Gender and nation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  56. Yuval-Davis, N., & Anthias, F. (Eds.). (1989). Woman-nation-state. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyTrinity CollegeDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations