The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) was a political party established in 1996 and dissolved in 2006, created to contest elections to the political peace negotiations that would result in the Belfast Agreement. Its later policies and actions, underscored by its three core principles of equality, inclusion and human rights were formulated and implemented in support of the Belfast Agreement. Drawing on their experience of activism in civil society and exclusion from mainstream political life, the NIWC seized the opportunity to successfully raise the issue of women in the formal political arena in order to shape the peace process. But what of its contribution to politics in Northern Ireland - and beyond - after the GFA, and what of its legacy after its dissolution?
This article sketches the context of negotiations on ‘the constitutional question’ in which the NIWC emerged, says something of its experience in the political negotiations, points to its achievements in the inaugural Northern Ireland Assembly, and the implementation of the Belfast Agreement within and outwith those formal structures, identifying three main legacy areas of the NIWC that still shape the political landscape in Northern Ireland today, as well as one legacy area that informs and resonates with peace-building globally to this day.