We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Leah Farrell/
Gender Equality

Open letter to Taoiseach seeks wording 'if gender equality referendum is to go ahead '

The Taoiseach said last month that a referendum to amend the “women in the home” clause in the Irish Constitution will go ahead in November.

 A COALITION OF non-governmental organisations has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar calling on him to publish the proposed new wording for the ‘women in the home’ clause in the Irish Constitution. 

The group said that unless the proposed wording is published as soon as possible, there will not be enough to allow for a national conversation on the matter to take place before the referendum.

The Government has signalled its intention to hold a referendum later this year on a proposal to insert a gender equality and non-discrimination principle into the Constitution.

In the open letter to the Taoiseach this week, Family Carers Ireland, One Family, the National Women’s Council (NWC), SIPTU and Treoir (the national federation of services for unmarried parents and their families) noted that the wording was expected by mid-May but that this deadline has now passed. 

The letter said that without knowing the exact wording, it will be “increasingly difficult to build a civil society response” and said this is unfair to the families and people directly impacted. 

 It added:

We hope the delay does not signal a government backtrack.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last month that he still expects the referendum to take place in November despite some “difficulty agreeing on the wording.”

At the time, he pointed out that there are two key issues at play: the wording in the Constitution that says the family is founded on marriage and the clause relating to the role of women in the home. 

Director of the National Women’s Council, Orla O’Connor, said this week that she is concerned about the proposed timeline for the referendum.

She said it is important to amend the “restrictive language” on women’s role in society used in the Constitution so that it “reflects the value of care and everyone’s role in care” across society.

Likewise, Ethel Buckley, deputy general secretary of the trade Union SIPTU said such a national conversation on the definition of family, the role of women in society and the recognition of care both in the home and community deserves time.

Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, One Family said that this referendum will be an opportunity to offer recognition to families who “have been mistreated over the years”.

The organisation’s CEO,  said that there are families living in Ireland now who are not recognised as such in our Constitution, who have “been waiting years for recognition”.

She said the Government owes it to them to publish wording as soon as possible before the referendum.

Adding to this, Catherine Cox, the head of communications and policy at Family Carers Ireland, said a referendum to include wording in the Constitution that recognises the societal value of care in the home and wider community and obliges the State to take measures to support family carers, is a “milestone moment in our history”. 

 In 2021, the Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality recommended the deletion and replacement of Article 41.2 of the Constitution.

This article states:

In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to neglect of their duties in the home.

Along with the removal of Article 41.2, the assembly recommended amending Article 41, which recognises the family as the natural and fundamental unit group of society as a moral institution.

The assembly said the family should not be limited to the marital family. It also suggests inserting a new clause into Article 40, which centres on Fundamental Rights to refer explicitly to gender equality and non-discrimination.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel