'Working women ban lift changed Ireland'

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

The lifting of the ban on women working after marriage was today announced as the one thing that most changed Ireland over the past 50 years in a major public poll. 

A total of 5,103 people voted in the 50things.ie online poll, an initiative launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive pill.

The lifting of the ban was nominated as the overall winner of the poll, beating the other category winners: ‘Joining the EU’ (which won the ‘social and political’ category); ‘The attitude to the Catholic Church’ (cultural); ‘The internet’ (media, technology and innovation) and ‘The Celtic Tiger’ (business and commercial). 

A judging panel chose the lifting of the ban (which won the regulatory and legislative category) as the overall winner.

Commenting on the choice of winner, historian Professor Diarmaid Ferriter said after much discussion and debate, the judges chose the lifting of the ban on women working after marriage as the overall winner and the thing that most changed Ireland over the past 50 years. 

"In 1966, only 5% of married women in Ireland had jobs, whereas in 2006 this number had risen to over 50%, so it’s clear that this one regulatory change had an immense and lasting effect on society.  It impacted not only the lives of women, but also hugely affected men and children and from the 1970s onwards brought about significant social, cultural and economic change.”

The online poll was launched on July 22 and closed seven weeks later on 9th September.

Sponsors of the initiative, Bayer Healthcare, made a donation for every vote cast to children’s charity The Bubble Gum Club, totalling €5,000.


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