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      Women MPs from Northern Ireland: Challenges and Contributions, 1953–2020

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          Abstract

          This article investigates women’s representation as Northern Ireland (NI) MPs in the House of Commons since 1953. The central argument of the study is that the political and cultural positions dominant at the formation of NI in the early 20 th century reverberate through the generations and continue to inform women’s political under-representation today. The article provides an historical context for women’s political and public participation from the 1950s, highlighting the gendered political culture in which this engagement took place. It examines the additional freezing effect of the ethno-national conflict on women’s civic and political involvement from the 1970s–1990s. In terms of women’s Westminster contributions, the article focuses on the period following the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast agreement and details the extent of women’s candidacies in general elections. It highlights their participation in parliamentary voting, and some of the issues to which they have contributed. The study shows the influence of a conservative, gendered political culture on the issues that have engaged women MPs from Northern Ireland. The article concludes that Northern Ireland’s privileging of male power continues to frame the political agendas and work of women MPs.

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          Women in a Men's House the Women M.P.s, 1919–1945

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            Nancy Astor, Women and Politics, 1919–1945

            Pat Thane (2020)
            Nancy Astor was the first woman elected to the House of Commons, in 1919. She succeeded her husband in his Plymouth constituency when he inherited a seat in the House of Lords, so avoided the discrimination which for decades prevented the selection of many women for winnable seats. She was not a suffragist, or, when elected, a feminist, but the hostility of many men, in and out of parliament, to her presence in the Commons stimulated her support for some, though not all, causes for which the women’s movement campaigned. She promoted equal pay, equal work opportunities, custody rights and the equal franchise, among other things, with some success, but was dubious about divorce and birth control due to her faith in Christian Science and its moral strictures. She was passionately anti-war, so like other feminists and pacifists was an ‘appeaser’. She was not a ‘crypto-Nazi’ as she was, and sometimes is, represented. She facilitated contact between women activists and MPs, male and female, and encouraged cross-party co-operation among women MPs. She was a popular and regular public speaker and widened the appeal of many aims of the women’s movement among women who were dubious about feminism. She was a Conservative who never followed the party line and an active promoter of state welfare measures, especially for young children. She was popular in Plymouth and supported her constituents through World War Two, but stood down in 1945 and left politics when Labour was likely to win the seat in the landslide election. Overall, her greatest contribution is that she significantly raised the profile of women in British politics and assisted the very gradual shift to greater gender equality and expansion of state welfare between the wars and through World War Two.
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              Gendering the ‘post-conflict’ narrative in Northern Ireland’s peace process

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                12 October 2020
                2020
                : 6
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Technological University Dublin, IE
                Article
                10.16995/olh.591
                53fdc159-bd76-400c-b5dd-68d9f11e3a5a
                Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Categories
                ‘An unconventional mp’: nancy astor, public women and gendered political culture

                Literary studies,Religious studies & Theology,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,History,Philosophy

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