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.
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