Women in the Northern Ireland Peace Process: A Novel Use of Expected Utility in Bridging the Gap between the Quantitative Scholars and the Policy Pundits

Tuesday, January 1, 2002
Marie Besançon

Beginning the process of bridging the gap between the quantitative scholars and the policy community, I draw on an expected utility model to analyze the perceptions that the various parties in Northern Ireland have of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition and to assess the effectiveness of their strategy toward achieving disarmament in the peace process. These perceptions were obtained through interviewing one or two members of each party involved in the Round Table negotiations in January 2003. As Northern Ireland has a party uniquely formed by women, there is the opportunity to quantitatively assess the weight that women bring to bear on the peace process both from the women's perspectives of themselves and from the other parties in the peace process. The Northern Ireland Women's Coalition is one of the smallest parties in Northern Ireland. Nevertheless each party represented in the Assembly had two peace delegates in the Round Table Talks between October, 2002, when the Assembly at Stormont was suspended, and January, 2003 when the interviews for this study were conducted. Although the women had an initial perception of themselves as having a fair amount of relative power, overall, their influence might have been impeded due to the divided importance they placed on issues and the centrist stances they chose. From another point of view, this centrist stance may have bridged important gaps between the extremes in the negotiations. The women are no different from the other small parties in the initial power that they bring to the table; their difference lies in their positioning and the importance they place on the issues.

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WomenPeaceProcessNorthernIrland_Boston consortium,2002