In April 1996 the NIWC was formed from pre-existing chapters within the women's movement.
Espousing inclusion, equality and human rights as its three core principles, the NIWC advocated a radically new type of politics (see NIWC 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly Election Manifesto--A New Voice for New Times).
It functioned so that each of the ten parties with the most votes across Northern Ireland elected another two representatives, presenting the NIWC with a crucial opportunity at the entry level of formal politics.
After entering the Assembly, the NIWC deteriorated steadily, indicating its susceptibility to opportunities and obstacles in its navigation of the formal political terrain.
The first obstacle to the advancement of the NIWC manifested itself prior to the party's official entrance to the Assembly, during the electoral process itself.
Furthermore, given the high regional dispersion of the party's supporters, PR-STV damaged the NIWC in terms of its territorial constituency basis (Horowitz, 2002: 208).
Having gained entry to the Assembly despite such inauspicious electoral circumstances, the NIWC immediately encountered further institutional marginalization.
Within such a fractured political landscape, the newly-founded transversal space claimed by the NIWC in 1998 dissipated as the climate became more polarized, culminating in the organization's loss of both seats in the 2003 Assembly election.
Firstly, in terms of national allegiance the NIWC represented a multi-partisan entity, which was contrary to the dominant bipolar discourse of the consociational system.
Such generous, non-competitive behaviour epitomizes the 'politics of care' with which the NIWC hoped to infuse the new institutions and replace the zero-sum discourse (Porter, 1998: 31).
As a consequence of such incompatible discourses, the NIWC encountered much miscomprehension and often outright opposition from other parties within the Assembly.