Wednesday, March 08, 2023

James Cox

A referendum on gender equality and removing a constitutional reference to a woman’s place being in the home will be held in November.

The referendum has been announced following recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality and the special joint Oireachtas committee on gender equality last year.

Announcing the referendum on Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “women and girls have carried a disproportionate share of caring responsibilities, been discriminated against at home and in the workplace, objectified or lived in fear of domestic or gender-based violence”.

Article 41.2 contains a recognition that “by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved” and that 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”.

‘Outdated’ reference

The Taoiseach said the vote would seek to remove the “outdated” reference in the Constitution.

The Department of Equality will set up an interdepartmental committee to develop policy recommendations, which will form the wording of the referendum.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, said: “I commend the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality and the membership of the recent special Oireachtas committee on gender equality for their work to advance these difficult and sensitive issues.

“My department will very shortly be convening an inter-departmental committee to develop policy recommendations for consideration by Government, with a view to agreement by Government of wording for the proposed referenda.”

Mr O’Gorman intends to publish the general scheme of one or more referendum bills by the end of June. This will allow time for the Electoral Commission to be briefed on the bill, or bills, before they go before the Oireachtas.

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