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Transitional Justice Processes Need to Engage More with Women

Governments and technocrats need to engage more creatively and effectively with women during transitional justice processes, according to University of Ulster academic Dr Catherine O’Rourke. 

Dr O’Rourke, who is originally from Monasterevin, County Kildare, who was awarded PhD at the Ulster’s summer graduation ceremonies in the Waterfront Hall this week lectures in the Transitional Justice Institute at Jordanstown. Her doctoral research focused on a comparative study of the role of women involved in transitional justice processes in Chile, Northern Ireland and Colombia.  

Offering her congratulations to Dr O’Rourke on receiving her doctorate, research supervisor Professor Christine Bell, said it was a very significant piece of work. 

“While there had been some discussion about the role of woman in transitional peace processes, there was very little empirical research and the issue of gender was generally not well understood. Catherine’s comparative study of the processes will lead to a much better understanding.” 

After graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with an LLB (Law and Politics), Dr O’Rourke undertook her Masters degree at the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics. She joined the Transitional Justice Institute at Magee as a Research Assistant/Associate in 2004 and worked with Professor Bell on comparative analysis of peace agreements. In 2007, she moved to full-time PhD research within the TJI and relocated to the US to spend an academic year as Visiting Scholar at American University School of International Service in Washington.  

As part of her doctoral research, she conducted extensive fieldwork in Latin America, working as a Visiting Researcher at both the Law School of Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile and the Law School of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Columbia. As an advocate, she has been involved with the Amnesty International (UK) Stop Violence Against Women campaign, provided guidance to the Northern Ireland’s sector on the Bill of Rights drafting process, and participated in expert work by the International Center for Transitional Justice (New York) on gender and security sector reform.