Remove Ingrained Sexism From Ireland’s Constitution

Target: Leo Varadkar, Prime Minister of Ireland

Goal: Banish constitutional language that demeans and demoralizes women.

The Irish Constitution needs to better address women’s rights. Women’s rights advocates in Ireland received a substantial boost when a referendum vote lifted a constitutional ban on abortion that has endured for over three decades. Yet advocates in the country argue that Ireland still has a long way to go in achieving true equality for women. They now have their sights set on another controversial clause in the Irish Constitution: an inclusion critics charge encourages a culture of second-class treatment for women.

The clause, informally dubbed “women in the home,” states “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, 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.” As part of the 1937-drafted Constitution, Article 41.2 is seen as largely a negative backlash by government against the rise of women in the workforce and a subsequent reinforcement of the notion that a woman cannot be wife, mother, and worker all in one.

Many practices in Ireland over the decades have seemingly followed this notion, as bans on married women being employed in a public place were only eliminated in the 1970s. Even today, a significant pay disparity still remains between working men and working women. For advocates, removal of this clause can open a serious dialogue about many issues involving gender equality, from contraception availability to educational opportunities.

Sign this petition to hold Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to his vow to push for a referendum on the future of this divisive relic of Ireland’s foremost text.


Dear Prime Minister Varadkar,

Your nation’s Constitution speaks of and to its people. As our communities and citizens continue to grow and evolve, so must this document. When you took office, you made a promise to the women and all the citizens of Ireland that you would put a highly charged Constitutional article, the so-called “women in the home” clause, to a public vote.

A previous constitutional conference has already recommended alteration of the clause, and continued progression in women’s causes nationwide and worldwide speaks to a fundamental thirst for change. Many women cannot feel that the Proclamation of the Republic, calling forth both “Irishmen and Irishwomen,” or any legal protections will truly matter if an outdated and contentious view of women’s status continues to be affirmed in Ireland’s most important document.

Gender equality and all the many complex issues it encompasses will continue to be a work-in-progress for all nations, but women need a platform of fairness and equity. Their voices can and should be heard. Give them the chance to lend their voice on this critical issue. Honor your promise and leave Article 41.2 to the will of the people.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Karla Cote

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  1. Equality For All! Women Are All! Please keep your promise.

  2. Ireland is such a beautiful place, why you undermine the dignity of such magnificent country and its habitats with that obsolescent mentality?

    For heaven sake Ireland!!!

    The year is 2018, not 1818.

  3. gen agustsson says:

    feminism? we do not need feminism. we need lgbtq+ rights no matter what gender we are.

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198 Signatures

  • Helen LeBrecht
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