Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Wednesday that his country was “an unfinished republic” soo long as there is still some inequality between men and women and in order to solve that a referendum will be held in November to remove sexist content from Constitution.
Varadkar made the announcement on March 8, marking International Women's Day. Citizens will be able to vote on whether to remove sexist references from its constitution and to incorporate full equality between men and womenThe constitution of the Republic, approved in mid-1937 and amended on dozens of occasions, maintains to this day the embers of an intransigent Catholicism, although the country has already moved away from its past with social advances such as abortion, divorce, or gay marriage. Its article 41.2 states that with her life 'within the home', the woman offers the State a support without which the common good could not be achieved. The popular consultation, among other things, will propose the disappearance of this express reference to the role of women.
The same paragraph, in its second point, states that the State shall strive to ensure that mothers are not forced, out of economic necessity, to go to work, to the detriment of their duties at home.
The Citizens' Assembly for Gender Equality, whose recommendations have been taken up by the Government, also suggested the elimination of that phrase.
For too long, women and girls have borne disproportionate responsibility for the care of others, have been discriminated against in the home and workplace, have been objectified, or have lived in fear of domestic or gender-based violence, Varadkar said Wednesday.
The consultation will also include the proposal to expressly declare equality in the text of the Constitution, for which article 40.1. will have to be amended, which today simply proclaims that all citizens, as human persons, shall be equal before the law.
The referendum is to take place in November following government proposals for constitutional amendments to be published in June, it was explained.
“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,” Varadkar said.
Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman added: “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.”
The Citizens' Assembly is a collegial and constituent body, made up of representatives of political parties and randomly elected citizens, which heeds and offers its recommendation on possible changes or additions to the constitution. In the past, they have been able to accurately reflect the sentiment of the Irish citizenry, said Orla O'Connor, director of the historic feminist organization National Women's Council. This is an important and timely announcement for women, families, and gender equality. It is a unifying proposal that, if passed, will replace the limited and outdated role given to women, celebrated O'Connor.
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