Dr Laura Cahillane (School of Law) was invited by the Women’s Legal Landmarks project in the UK to contribute a chapter on the Fifteenth Amendment to the (Irish) Constitution Act 1995 (which introduced divorce in Ireland) and to present at a workshop in Birmingham in February. The Women’s Legal Landmarks project is a collaborative reflection on women’s progress in and engagement with law and law reform. Spanning eleven centuries and covering issues as diverse as divorce reform, the right to vote, grassroots protests, prostitution, equal pay and the ordination of women bishops, the project brings together feminist lawyers, historians, activists and legal practitioners from across the UK and Ireland to produce an online database and book detailing the key legal events that have been – and continue to be – significant in women’s struggle for justice and equality.
Dr Cahillane travelled to the University of Birmingham in February to present her paper on the introduction of divorce in Ireland following the controversial referendum in 1995. The workshop involved many senior academics from institutions in the UK including Professor Erika Rackley, Professor Fiona de Londras, Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, Professor Penny Russell, Professor Lucy Vickers, Professor Clare McGlynn, among others. To have been invited to participate in such an enterprise was a true honour. The workshop itself was a great learning experience with serious academic discussion on issues surrounding perceptions of women and the law. Dr Cahillane also made many new connections with academics researching in these areas. She is now in the process of editing her contribution, in line with feedback received at the workshop, in preparation to submit it to the editors of the collection (Professors Erika Rackley and Rosemary Auchmuty) for publication with Hart Publishing. The book will be the first scholarly anthology of legal landmarks for women spanning four jurisdictions and eleven centuries. It seeks to contribute both to the development of the discipline of feminist legal history as well as societal understandings of the contribution women have made to public life and, more specifically, their involvement in the production of law, law reform and justice.