Irish government backs referendum to delete ‘women in home’ article from Constitution Poll to be held on same day as blasphemy referendum and presidential election.
The Irish government agreed last week to propose deleting article 41.2 of the Irish Constitution which recognises women’s special place in the home.
The referendum is expected to be held on 25 October when voters will also be asked to remove the country’s blasphemy law and are provisionally scheduled to vote for a President.
Article 41.2 governs the family, which Ireland recognises as the “natural primary and fundamental unit of society” and which it “guarantees to protect”. The second part of article 41 is the part the Government is asking voters to delete and it states: “In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, a woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
“The State shall, therefore, endeavour that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
The Irish government said it decided to propose a straight deletion, rather than amending the article to include gender neutral language or to recognise the role of carers in the home as originally recommended by the Constitutional Convention. It conceded there was “is a clear appetite for a wider consultation on the issue of ‘care’”.
It said the decision to opt for a straight deletion rather than a replacement came after lengthy discussion and consultation with groups including the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Oireachtas Women’s Caucus.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the Irish government wants to use the referendum to have a debate about gender equality in Ireland. He said: “Over 80 years after the Constitution was formally adopted, it is clear that article 41.2 has no place in our Constitution.
“It undermines today’s goal to achieve real gender equality by ensuring women have real choices about what to do with their lives.”
Mr Flanagan said the proposal to delete the provision “does not reflect a negative view of women in the home but reflects a negative view of the notion that women should be confined to only the home and should not have choices or be encouraged to play a role in public life.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has criticised Article 41.2.