Referendum to repeal 'outdated' article on a woman's place in the home announced

The Government has approved plans for a referendum on the reference to a woman’s place in the home.

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, and the Minister with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, announced today the intention to hold a referendum on the deletion of Article 41.2 of the Constitution.

This provision recognises a woman's place in the home "a support without which the common good cannot be achieved" and says the State will ensure mothers are not obliged to work "to the neglect of their duties in the home."

The vote is due to take place in October alongside a referendum on blasphemy and the presidential election, should there be one.

Proposing the deletion of the article, Minister Flanagan said it was an "appropriate time" to propose the referendum and that it could be used to hold "a public debate about gender equality in Ireland".

"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," he said.

"In fact, while Article 41.2 may reflect the prevailing social ethos of the 1930s, its inclusion in the Constitution was actually controversial from the very beginning. Even before the Constitution was formally adopted, a number of people argued it represented a narrow, discriminatory view that sought to confine women to one part of society only, carrying out duties in the home."

"The proposal to delete the provision does not reflect a negative view of women in the home, it reflects a negative view of the notion that women should be confined to the home only, and should not have choices or be encouraged to play a role in public life."

"Modern Ireland values meritocracy, diversity and inclusion and Article 41.2 does not reflect those values. Our Constitution does not seek to confine the place of men; we believe it should not seek to confine the place of women. Both men and women should be able to live the lives they choose," he said.

The law has been criticised at home and abroad, including by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The issue will be discussed by the next Citizens’ Assembly and is part of a wider programme of gender equality measures, including new legislation to tackle the gender pay gap and an initiative to tackle the poor representation of women on corporate boards.

- Digital Desk

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