DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland plans to hold a referendum in November to delete references to a woman’s place being in the home from its constitution, the government announced on Wednesday.
While a wave of social change in the once deeply Catholic nation has seen the 86-year-old constitution amended in recent years to remove bans on abortion and permit same-sex marriage, “outmoded” references to womens’ role in society remain.
Article 41.2 says 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” and that “mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
A citizen’s assembly – a forum used to debate potential constitutional changes – in 2021 recommended removing those references and replacing them with gender-neutral and non-discriminatory language.
Any constitutional change in Ireland must be appoved by popular vote. Both referendums to liberalise highly restrictive abortion laws and allow same-sex marriage were approved by large majorities.
“I am pleased to announce that the government plans to hold a referendum to amend our Constitution to enshrine gender equality and to remove the outmoded reference to ‘women in the home,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement on Wednesday as the world celebrated International Women’s Day.
“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.”
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)