WOMEN in Northern Ireland have helped maintain sectarian barriers as well as destroy them, research at Bradford University's peace studies department has shown. Part-time lecturer Ruth Jacobson, who has documented the role of women's groups in the 1996-97 Irish peace process, says claims for a distinctive "women's culture" of consensus and peacemaking do not always reflect reality. While women have helped change politics in Northern Ireland, they have struggled to get their vision of peace on to the political agenda and have faced barriers from the male-dominated world of formal political parties and conservative social attitudes in the country.
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