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Gender equality and political change in Northern Ireland

Warren, Stella; Conley, Hazel


Hazel Conley
Professor in Human Resource Management


Most examples of political change in recent times have had negative connotations for equality. By comparison equality has been at the centre of positive political change in Northern Ireland (NI). Stemming from the Belfast Agreement in 1998, non-discrimination in public service employment and the delivery of public services are key planks in promoting equality of opportunity and good relations in NI. The mechanism for achieving these aims is contained in s.75 of the Northern Ireland Act, considered a particularly successful aspect of the legislation. The legislation requires public authorities to produce an equality scheme and report annually on the progress made towards the objectives laid out in the scheme. The legislation was heavily influenced by European Union policy, particularly the concept of gender equality mainstreaming. Women’s groups in NI played an important role in brokering the agreement and shaping the legislation, but there is some doubt as to how far women in NI have benefitted from the legislation. This paper examines how gender equality and mainstreaming is reflected in equality schemes and documentation in 18 case study public authorities in NI, including the setting of gender equality goals and clear timetables and plans to achieve the goals. The case studies involved documentary analysis of equality schemes, action plans and annual progress reports coupled with semi-structured interviews with the key equality officer in each authority. The results so far indicate mixed results, with some schemes developing effective measures for gender equality but to a much lesser extent in others.


Warren, S., & Conley, H. (2017, August). Gender equality and political change in Northern Ireland. Paper presented at European Sociological Conference, Athens, Greece

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name European Sociological Conference
Conference Location Athens, Greece
Start Date Aug 29, 2017
End Date Sep 1, 2017
Acceptance Date Apr 7, 2017
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords gender equality, Northern Ireland, labour market, section 75
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : European Sociological Association Conference, Athens