Monday, February 8, 2010

A woman's place

I swear this will be the last post to come from last week's Leviathan. Towards the end of the evening, Article 41 came in for a bit of flak. This is the infamous bit that talks about the woman's place in the home.

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

Unfortunately, the position from the panel was to make this clause gender neutral rather than dispense with it entirely. Were we to do so, we would be constitutionally protecting the right to rely on social welfare and never leave the house for all citizens. The system would last about one week in those circumstances.

In a way it would be a shame to see 41.2 be dumped from the Constitution. For the time in which it was written it was a very progressive sub-clause. By recognizing that there was value, both socially and economically, to the work that women were doing in the home, the feminist movement in Ireland took a big step forward. However, now it is completely out of date and should be junked. After all, the individualisation of tax credits by McCreevy a few years back should have been challenged on the basis of this clause and yet wasn't. So if we're actually ignoring sections of the Constitution then why have them at all.

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