The Impact of EU Equality Legislation on Irish Women
The expansion of Irish women's employment and political opportunities arising from European Union (EU) policies illustrates how supra- or transnational citizenship, with special emphasis on sex equality, has evolved since the early 1970s. This chapter traces the stages and mechanisms by which equal opportunities are facilitated by EU institutions and laws and examines their impact on women in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It is divided into four parts: First, Irish women's workforce participation prior to EU membership is profiled and their civic status is placed within classical conceptions of citizenship; second, the gestation of equality policy is traced from the Treaty of Rome to the Treaty of Amsterdam with reference to critical events, institutions, and equality instruments; third, the effect of equality policies on Irish women as policymakers and policytakers is assessed; fourth, a brief overview of EU sex equality laws, including possible future limitations, is presented.
It seems logical to conceptualise transnational or supranational citizenship as an extension of national citizenship. History demonstrates, however, that the democratic processes that go hand in hand with the nationstate lag hopelessly behind the supranational form taken by EU economic integration ( Habermas 1994: 20). This observation is particularly apt as far as women's citizenship is concerned (with the exception of the Scandinavian states). Implicitly, however, economic criteria serve as a lit-