Changes and Continuities in Maternity Policies: Comparison of Maternity Legislation in Estonia and Ireland
This paper examines maternity policy legislation in Ireland and Estonia, focussing on changes and continuities. Throughout the paper we speak about maternity, referring to the physiological aspect of motherhood and the unique capacity of women to bear children. Very often maternity is not covered by a single policy, but it is an amalgam of various policy fields, like health, social security, and labour. These policies are all embedded in the legal framework which therefore presents a means to achieve the desired end in the society by marking the borders between the allowed and the prohibited. Even though these lines are not always followed, and may sometimes stay only on paper, they still have an impact on how the ideal state of things is perceived. They are linked to the principles upon which welfare is organised and in the case of Estonia and Ireland these have been very different. In the former, there has been the communist ideal of woman as worker and mother, and in Ireland can be seen the enduring view of woman as mother first, citizen worker second. In this paper we concentrate on the legislation since the 1920s, that is, since both countries became independent republics. We explore the critical junctures that have shaped the policy paths in both countries.