The Changing World of  Irish Women

1918 - Irish women over 30 granted the vote under the Representation of the People Act.

1919 - Countess Markievicz appointed Minister for Labour in the first Republican Government.

1932 - Louise Bennett became the first woman president of the Irish Trade Union Congress.

1957 - The Married Women’s Status Act passed, giving women control over their own property.

1958 - Garda Siochana Act provided for the employment of Ban Ghardai.

1964 - The Guardianship of Infants Act passed, giving women guardianship rights equal to those of men.

1970 - Fianna Fail Government set up the Commission on the Status of Women chaired by Dr Thelka Beere.

1973 - Formation of the Council for the Status of Women, to be the main co-ordinating body for women’s organisations in       Ireland.

1973 - The Civil Service [Employment of Married Women] Act 1973 removed the ban on the recruitment or employment of married women in the Civil Service, Local Authorities and Health Boards.

1973 - The Social Welfare Act made provision for the payment of a deserted wives benefit and for the payment of an unmarried mother’s allowance.

1974 - Women’s Aid opened its first refuge in Dublin (In 1999 there are 15 refuges nation – wide).

1976 - Irishwomen United protested against ‘Gentlemen only’ bathing at Forty – Foot, Sandycove, Co Dublin.

1977 - The first Rape Crisis Centre opens in Dublin. (In 1999 there are 16 Rape Crisis Centres nation – wide).

1977 -  Irish Government gave effect to the 1976 EEC directive on equality by passing the Employment Equality Act, which also established the Employment Equality Agency.

1977 - The Government also passed the Unfair Dismissals Act which protected employees including pregnant workers from wrongful dismissal.

1979 - Aer Lingus appointed their first woman pilot.
        - CIE employ their first woman bus conductors.

1980 - Mella Carroll became the first woman to be appointed as a High Court Judge.

1981 - The Criminal Law [Rape] Act was passed.

1984 -  A scheme of job sharing and later one of career breaks was introduced in the Civil Service. These were subsequently extended widely through the public sector.

1985 - The Family Planning [Amendment] Act was passed, providing a legal basis for the provision of a comprehensive range of family planning. All adults now have a legal right of access to contraceptives.

1985 - The Irish Government passed the Social Welfare Act [no.2] with the aim of implementing the 1979 directive on equal treatment in social security. For the first time married women in Ireland were to be treated equally with men and single women in the social welfare code.

1990 - The European Commission launched the NOW (New Opportunities for Women) Programme, with the explicit aim of creating equal access for women to jobs and professional training.

1990 - Mary Robinson was elected first Woman President of Ireland.

1993 - The report of the Second Commission on the Status of Women was published.

1995 - The High Court forced the State to pay arrears to over 70,000 married women who had been discriminated against in social welfare payments, due to delays in implementing the 1985 Social Welfare Act.

1996 - The Domestic Violence Act was enacted, protection was extended to co- habiting couples, other adults living together and to parents regarding a violent child.

1997 - The Family Law (Divorce) Act was enacted in February 1997.

1998 - The Parental Leave Act was enacted, following an EU directive on Parental Leave, which gives parents an entitlement to unpaid leave from work to take care of young children.

1999 - First Woman County Manager appointed, Ann McGuinness (Westmeath).
        - First Woman Garda Chief Superintendent, Catherine Clancy appointed.
        - Inez McCormack was appointed President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.