Women and the Constitution of Ireland
The following articles in Bunreacht na hÉireann: the Constitution of Ireland refer specifically to women.
41.2.1 In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
41.2.2 The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.
45.4.2 The State shall endeavour to ensure that the strength and health of workers, men, women, and the tender age of children shall not be abused and that citizens shall not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.
Note The first draft of Article 45.4.2 of the Constitution included the words 'inadequate strength of women.' Women's organisations and many individual women considered the phrase very offensive. They wrote to Mr de Valera and met him by appointment. The wording was changed to read as it does above.
- What image of the 'typical woman' emerges from the Constitution, in your opinion?
- Women's organisations were fearful that Article 45.4.2 (especially if it had included the words 'inadequate strength of women') could be used to restrict the employment of women. Do you think their fears were justified? Give reasons for your answer.
- Research Bunreacht na hÉireann: the Constitution of Ireland.
- Research the implications for women of Bunreacht na hÉireann: the Constitution of Ireland.
- Organise a class debate on one of the following motions:
- That we think de Valera was right - a woman's place is in the home.
- That these articles in the Constitution of Ireland are insulting to fathers.
- That these articles in the Constitution of Ireland offer advantages to women.
- That parents should always place their duties in the home above their paid work.