Constitution had a 'huge negative impact' on women's lives

Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 00:00

The Constitution contains anachronistic references to women and has needed a “significant overhaul” for a long time, a meeting facilitated by Labour Party Senators in Leinster House has been told.

National Women’s Council of Ireland’s director Orla O’Connor told yesterday’s meeting there were many good things about the 1937 Constitution, but it had had a “huge negative impact” on women’s lives.

“It very much was the product of men and of male thinking, was shaped by an all-male civil service committee, an all-male judiciary and a very conservative ethos with regard to the role and the contribution women should play in Irish society,” she said.

“It is long overdue to have a significant overhaul.”

The constitutional convention, which begins tomorrow, has been asked to consider how the constitutional clause on women in the home might be amended as part of a wider series of potential reforms.

Article 41.2.1 says the State “recognises that by her life within the home, a woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved”.

Article 41.2.2 says that the State shall “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”.

Barrister Alan Brady, adjunct lecturer in Trinity College Dublin’s school of law, said he had been commissioned by the Women’s Council to carry out a “gender audit” of the Constitution.