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Reflecting on the 1937 Constitution: Women, Family and the Home in Ireland

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DCU, St Patrick's Campus, Drumcondra

Drumcondra Road Upper

Dublin 9

Dublin

Ireland

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Photograph of Bridget Johnson serving tea to the family, 1952.
Image courtesy of NUI Galway Archives.

Reflecting on the 1937 Constitution: Women, Family and the Home in Ireland

A Public Symposium

Seamus Heaney Lecture Theatre

DCU, St Patrick’s Campus

Friday 22nd February 2019.

#irishwomen37

In the wake of two major constitutional referenda for greater equality in Irish society, increasing attention has been paid to the article of our Constitution regarding the role of women in the home. The article reads as follows:

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.

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.

A recent government research note has highlighted ‘the limited practical impact of Article 41.2 and considers the symbolic value of amending or repealing it’. Additionally, the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality's recent report proposes two possible courses of action for the Government; a) replacement of the article with more appropriate, gender-neutral language, or b) postponement of any referendum on the matter until the Government formally consults with the public, potentially following the Citizens’ Assembly model.

Building on this contemporary debate, this symposium seeks to analyse the genesis and evolving interpretations of Article 41.2. Papers on the day will explore related issues on the subject of women, family and the home in Ireland.

Draft Programme

Registration from 9.15 am

Opening of Symposium by Professor James Kelly, Head of School of History and Geography: 9.45 am

Panel One: Gender, Rhetoric & Reaction (10am – 11.30am).
Chair: Dr Marnie Hay, Lecturer in History, DCU

Dr Alexandra Tierney (Visiting Research Fellow, TCD) – ‘I hope the time will come when society will be so arranged . . . that it will not be necessary for any married woman to go out and earn her living’: The ideals of Article 41.2 in Ireland and abroad before 1937.

Susannah Deedigan (Independent Scholar) - Women’s reactions to the 1937 Draft Constitution: a middle-class, feminist campaign?

Gerri O’Neill (PhD Candidate, DCU): 'The Women of the Piercing Wail': Republican opposition to the 1937 Constitution.

11.30 - 11.45: Tea and coffee

11.45 – 12.45: Keynote Address

Dr Leeann Lane (Lecturer in History, DCU) – ‘The old charge of being anti-feminist’: women and work through the lens of Dorothy Macardle

12.45 – 1.30: Lunch

Panel Two: Interpretations & Predictions (1.30pm – 3pm).
Chair: Dr William Murphy, Lecturer in History, DCU

Deirdre Foley (PhD Candidate, DCU) – ‘Women are citizens’: Women’s groups and their interpretations of Article 41.2, c. 1937-1972.

Dr Fergus Ryan (Senior Lecturer in Law, NUI Maynooth) – The Gendered Landscape of the Irish Constitution: What to do with Article 41.2?

Dr Anna Visser – (Oireachtas Library & Research): Weighing choices: Parliamentary debate on the (proposed) Bill to amend Article 41.2 of the Constitution

3pm: Closing of Symposium

FAQs

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Email Deirdre Foley, School of History and Geography, DCU: irishwomen37@gmail.com


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DCU, St Patrick's Campus, Drumcondra

Drumcondra Road Upper

Dublin 9

Dublin

Ireland

View Map

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