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22 June 2024  

Political Voices: the Participation of Women in Irish Public Life, 1918-2018


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Bean na hÉireann, ©BMH-CD-005-3-09 – Geraldine Dillon collection, Defence Forces Ireland, Military Archives.

Political Voices:
the Participation of Women in Irish Public Life, 1918-2018

12th December 2018,
The National Gallery of Ireland,
Merrion Square West, Dublin 2

As part of our Decade of Centenaries programme, the National University of Ireland, in collaboration with Maynooth University Social Sciences Unit, is pleased to announce a one-day symposium: Political Voices: the Participation of Women in Irish Public Life, 1918-2018.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of People Act 1918 and the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918, which granted limited voting rights to women. This symposium is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the first General Election in Ireland, as it seeks, in particular, to explore the participation of women in the political life of the State from 1918 to 2018. The speakers will reflect on the last 100 years of women’s activism and participation in Irish public life.

Justice Catherine McGuinness will deliver the plenary paper. Other speakers will include: Dr Caitríona Beaumount, London South Bank University; Dr John Borgonovo, UCC; Professor Linda Connolly, Maynooth University; Ms Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey; Ms Claire McGing, Maynooth University; Professor Senia Paseta, University of Oxford; Dr Ailbhe Smyth; Dr Margaret Ward, QUB; and Dr Pádraig Yeates.

The symposium will comprise three sessions. Session 1, Revolutionary Women 1910-1930, will examine how women navigated the key issues of the day: revolution, nationalism and suffrage. It will examine how (political) women found a voice both before and after the foundation of the new state. Session 2, After the Vote: Women and Politics in Post-Independent Ireland 1930-1970, will explore how women came to political life in the aftermath of the foundation of, and as citizens of, the new state. It will examine their familial connections to political men, and how this influenced, or not, their campaigns and political philosophies. Session 3, Reflections on Contemporary Feminism and Political Activism 1960-2018, will look at the issues which women of all generations and socio-economic backgrounds faced, but which became central to the women’s movement: the right to contraception and equal employment rights. A crucial period in the relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, this session will also explore the experience of women both north and south of the border.

To some extent the same questions apply across the generations: how did women find their voice? What motivated and/or prevented them from engaging in political life? How are their voices heard within their own political parties and within the executive and legislative houses? How do women campaign and represent the major social and economic issues of the day?

This conference provides a platform from which to compare and contrast the experience of historical and more contemporary female politicians and activists over the course of the last century and as such presents a unique opportunity to give voice to Irish women.

Organising Committee
Professor Linda Connolly, Director of Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute
Dr Attracta Halpin, Registrar of the National University of Ireland
Ms Claire McGing, Athena Swan Project Officer/Research Assistant, MUSSI
Dr Emer Purcell, Publications Office, NUI

Full programme details are available here.
Booking is essential, to register please click here.

Please note that symposium will be filmed and photographed. The recording and photographs may be used for outreach and promotional purposes on the NUI website and social media channels; by our event partners and by mainstream media. If you do not wish to have your photograph used for such purposes, please speak to a member of NUI staff at the event, or email publications@nui.ie in advance of the symposium.

Further information contact:
National University of Ireland
49 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
E-mail publications@nui.ie
T:    353 (0)1 4392424  
Twitter: @NUIMerrionSq
Facebook: National University of Ireland


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