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Project October 19, 2018

The Good Friday Agreement 20 Years On: 'Women's Work'

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A mural reading 'End Sectarianism: Bring Down The Walls' on the Falls Road mural wall in Belfast. Image by Julia Canney. Northern Ireland, 2018.
A mural reading 'End Sectarianism: Bring Down The Walls' on the Falls Road mural wall in Belfast. Image by Julia Canney. Northern Ireland, 2018.

Twenty years on from the Good Friday Agreement, a peace agreement that ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and around the border, communities within the country are still struggling every day to ensure that the tense peace created by the agreement remains in place. This charge is led by women—women who were organizing peace marches during the tumultuous 1970s and 1980s, women who work in community organizing and women's centers throughout Belfast and Derry, and women who only recently began talking about their own traumas from The Troubles—many out of a desire to ensure that their children will not have to live through the same conflict that they did.

However, the work being done by women, who were consistently the ones who maintained peace in their communities during The Troubles, is stymied by a non-existent government and funders who are loathe to contribute resources to programs that they claim don't directly benefit the peace process. These women are now forced to deal with and heal the inter-generational traumas experienced by their parents, their families, and themselves—without the financial support for this vital work. Young people who were born after the Good Friday Agreement, dubbed the "Ceasefire Generation," are twice as likely to die by suicide as their peers during the actual conflict. Women and young girls feel as though their efforts are being ignored and that they are faced with a British government that has proven it could care less about what happens in Northern Ireland. 

Julia Canney, a human rights advocate and journalist, traveled to Belfast and Derry in Northern Ireland to speak with women involved in peace building efforts. These women discussed the barriers they face as a result of a lack of resources and funding, as well as what could be done to ensure that this work continues to move communities in Northern Ireland forward towards lasting peace.

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