Is it time to scrap Article 41.2?
Last Monday was International Women’s day commemorating the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. Yet, our Constitution still contains Article 41.2 which contradicts these very achievements:
“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. 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.”
Women and mother’s duties in the home? Yet there is no mention of men and father’s duties.
Last year, a Citizen’s Assembly was convened to consider the offending Article. A majority of the 99 members recommended that it should be deleted from the Constitution. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has recommended replacing the Article with “a new provision that recognises the contributions made by family life and carers to our society”.
Article 41.2 was inserted into the Constitution in 1937. At the time, the voting age was 21. Therefore, this Article was inserted by people born before 1916, before we had even won our independence from the British empire. Yet, more than 100 years later, this echo from the past encouraging women not to “neglect their duties in the home” is still with us.
At OneBigSwitch, we have some insights into men’s and women’s duties in the home. OneBigSwitch members are split almost exactly 50:50 male to female. Switchers are also split 50:50. So it looks as if in the real world, Irish consumers share many administrative duties in the home, such finding energy, insurance, banking and broadband providers, evenly across the genders.