The Glens of Antrim Historical Society Lecture on Friday 25th October 2013.
Leading feminist writer Dr.Margaret Ward informed an enthralled audience in the Parish Centre Cushendall, of the local campaign for women’s suffrage over a century ago and how it reached its peak just as Ireland was on the brink of civil war over the Home Rule crisis.
Unionist and Nationalist women were united in a common cause to demand votes for women at a time of grave political crisis in Ireland, although they were divided on whether or not to undertake militant action for the cause. Dr. Ward described how in 1913 a passionate crowd packed the Ulster Hall to hear the leader of the Suffragette Movement, Emmeline Pankhurst call for votes for women. A major target for the anger of the Suffragettes at that meeting was Edward Carson, who was openly advocating rebellion against the British Government and yet fervently opposed the right of women to vote.
The women from Ulster braved physical assault and the threat of prison to articulate a common call for suffrage and this lecture examined the excitement and complexities of a time when women in Ireland were claiming their right to be citizens.
Dr. Ward is the director of the Women’s Resource and Development Agency in Belfast. She holds a B.A. in political science and philosophy from the Queen’s University of Belfast and a Ph.D. from the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her recent publications include “Irish Women and nationalism: soldiers, new women and wicked hags”; “Gender, Citizenship and the Future of the Northern Ireland Peace Process” and “Discourses in transition: Re-imagining women’s security”.