Contesting Politics: Women in Ireland, North and South

By Yvonne Galligan; Eilís Ward et al. | Go to book overview
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abortion in the early 1970s, but Ireland legalised only contraception, and not until 1979.

In the area of economic and employment equality, public policy is still defined by the equality contract established in the 1970s. This contract is essentially defined in terms of procedural equality, that is, the equal treatment of equals. It does not presuppose an ideal outcome. Hence the state can declare its support for women whether they choose childrearing in the home or a career in the labour market. Policy creates formal equal access, but other factors that shape women's labour market decisions, such as the availability of child care, are ignored or treated as matters of personal choice. In spite of developments since the 1970s, the concept of adult dependency in marriage and in social welfare provision is still strong. It is also one that denies women the economic autonomy essential for full citizenship. Although challenged by second-wave feminism, the policy paradigm created in the equality contract has proved to be a resilient one. Changing the paradigm will be an issue for the new millennium.


Chamberlayne Prue, "Women and the State: Changes in Roles and Rights in France, West Germany, Italy and Britain, 1970-1990", in Jane Lewis (ed.), Women and Social Policies in Europe: Work, Family and the State, Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1993.

Commission on the Status of Women, Report to the Minister for Finance, Dublin: Stationery Office, 1973.

Cornu R. B., Women and Employment in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark, Brussels: Commission of the European Communities, 1974.

Dáil Debates (Proceedings of Dáil Eireann), 1964, 1965, 1969, and 1970.

Daly Mary E., "Women and Trade Unions", in Donal Nevin (ed.), Trade Union Century, Dublin: Mercier Press, 1994.

Delphy Christine, "The European Union and the Future of Feminism", in R. Amy Elman , (ed.), Sexual Politics and the European Union: the New Feminist Challenge, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1996.

Duncan Simon, "The Diverse Worlds of European Patriarchy", in Maria Dolors Garcia-Ramon and Janice Monk, (eds.), Women of the European Union: The Politics of Work and Daily Life, London: Routledge, 1996.

Gardiner Frances, "Political Interest and Participation of Irish Women 1922-1992: The Unfinished Revolution", in Ailbhe Smyth, (ed.), Irish Women's Studies Reader, Dublin: Attic Press, 1993.

Hardiman Niamh, Pay, Politics and Economic Performance in Ireland 1970-1987, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.

Hoskyns Catherine, Integrating Gender: Women, Law and Politics in the European Union, London: Verso, 1996.

Hoskyns Catherine, "The European Union and the Women Within: An Overview of Women's Rights Policy", in R. Amy Elman (ed.), Sexual Politics and the European Union: The New Feminist Challenge, Oxford : Berghahn Books, 1996a.


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