Presentation on theme: "By Niall Gilmartin NUI Maynooth. The Feminist Debate Nationalism: An Institution of Patriarchy? Nationalism is male-led institution built upon patriarchy."— Presentation transcript:
By Niall Gilmartin NUI Maynooth
The Feminist Debate Nationalism: An Institution of Patriarchy? Nationalism is male-led institution built upon patriarchy and sexism. (Enloe1990 & Nagle 2005) Women play a symbolic role in Nationalist Ideology. The nation’s ‘Sons’ fighting to protect the ‘Motherland’. Women become biological reproducers of the nation; Cultural transmitters Women’s empowerment through nationalist movements is temporary; in post-conflict, patriarchy and ‘gender norms’ quickly reassert themselves. Nationalist cause always takes precedence over gender equality.
Nationalism: A Feminist tool for Gender Equality Conflict and Nationalism allows women to come out into the male-led public sphere Nationalism creates spaces where women can further the aims and objectives of the feminist agenda. Feminist agenda can be successfully pursued alongside the nationalist agenda. Current literature from Palestine, North of Ireland, South Africa all concur that women are empowered political agents due to their involvement in nationalist struggles (Al Labadi 2003, Aretxaga 1997, O’Keefe 2003 Sharoni 2010)
Main Argument Current feminist debate is whether or not women’s empowerment during conflict is temporary or not. I argue that nationalist movements can empower women and further the aims of feminism. Crucially, in the context of the feminist debate, I argue that the equalities and powers won by women during conflict, can be carried over into post-conflict societies.
Methodology & Sample Using the North of Ireland as a case study, I interviewed a sample of eight republican women. Primary data based on semi-structured interviews. All interviewees were active republicans during the conflict. All are currently politically active in both formal and informal politics. Snowball sampling technique.
Research Questions Where are republican women today? Are they still politically active? Have their roles changed, strengthened or diminished as the North of Ireland continues towards a post-conflict society? If so, why and in what ways? Crucially, is there evidence of a post-conflict regression in women’s empowerment?
Republican Women during the ‘Troubles’ Conflict fragments ‘traditional’ gender roles. Women felt they played an equal and central role in the Republican Movement Civil Rights, Falls Rd. Curfew, Internment, Armagh Gaol, Street Protests, IRA Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, Sinn Féin
Findings & Analysis All interviewees are politically active today Full time activists across formal and informal politics Sinn Féin, Community Groups, Women’s Groups, Conflict Victims Groups. All assert that they are empowered activists due to their involvement in the conflict. Their current role is a direct continuation of that same struggle for political equality and social justice.
Findings & Analysis During conflict, all were members of a homogenous movement; IRA and Sinn Féin. Now branched into other spheres of informal politics. Community Groups, Drug rehabilitation, Social Justice, Domestic Violence, Women’s Reproductive Rights. While ‘national cause’ initially politicised women, they now branched off into other areas Why? Why not continue with Sinn Féin?
Findings & Analysis 2007 IRA formally ends campaign Republicans fully embrace constitutional, electoral politics. Rigid, formal & male-dominated structures. Republican Movement’s new strategy also means new barriers for republican women Formal versus Informal Politics: State and party politics rigid and slow to affect change; out of touch with the people; male- led culture; child-care issues, working hours. Informal politics is new, radical, affects change quicker, empowering, dynamic.
Findings & Analysis Formal Politics presents new challenges to republican women. Slow Outdated Patriarchal Ineffective “A relic of the past that needs to be dismantled if women are to achieve fully political equality” Republicans went from challenging the state to becoming the state.
Conclusion Republican Women are full time political activists today. Nationalism acted as political ‘springboard’ to empower women to challenge other inequalities. Formal, rigid politics caused some post- conflict regression, not nationalism.
Conclusion Nationalism-power, citizenship, democracy, equality. Women need to be at the centre of such movements. Nationalism can augment and further the aims of the feminist agenda-both causes working alongside each other. Women can use nationalism to confront and challenge patriarchy both within nationalism itself and in wider society. The republican women in this research have successfully demonstrated the benefits that such a challenge yields.