By Caoimhe Looney
The government have announced that a referendum on gender equality and the constitutional family will be held in November this year.
The referendum comes following recommendations made by a Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality two years ago and the Special Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality.
It’s sets to tackle both Article 40 and 41 of the Constitution, which could include the removal or the replacement of the reference to women ‘within the home’ due to the criticism it has faced increasingly in recent times.
The proposed amendments are due to be published by the end of June, with the referendum set to take place in November.
Other recommendations made include the specific reference to gender equality and non-discrimination.
The Government confirmed while making the announcement that a interdepartmental group will be established to agree on proposals.
The current Article 40.1 in the Constitution, which contains the equality guarantee, states that ‘all citizens shall be held equal before the law’ and critics have commented that it lacked specificity and the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality recommended it should be amended to refer explicitly to gender equality and non-discrimination.
Article 41 refers to the family and their rights under the Constitution, but the current Constitutional definition of the family is limited to the marital family and does not provide any definitions to families outside of the marital one.
The Citizens Assembly recommended that this article should be amended to protect family life and not limit the protection of the family to the marital family.
The third article which will be included in the referendum is Article 41.2, a very controversial article due to its reference to the woman ‘within the home.’
The Citizens Assembly recommendation was that this article should be deleted and replaced with non-gender specific language and obliges the State to take reasonable measures to support care within the home.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “For too long, 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.
“I am pleased to announce that the Government plans to hold a Referendum this November to amend our Constitution to enshrine gender equality and to remove the outmoded reference to ‘women in the home’, in line with the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality.”
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.”