Citizens' Assembly wants 'woman in the home' section of Constitution scrapped

Citizens' Assembly wants 'woman in the home' section of Constitution scrapped

Pictured is the Inaugural meeting of Citizen's Assembly on Gender Equality in Dublin Castle. Picture: Sam Boal/

The Citizens' Assembly on Gender Equality wants the so-called “woman in the home” section of the Irish Constitution to be scrapped.

The clause is seen as perpetuating gender stereotypes and the myth of men being the main breadwinner in families.

Article 41.2 currently says the State shall “endeavour to ensure mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.

But among its 45 priority recommendations, the assembly has recommended that the State should delete and replace the text of Article 41.2 with language that is “not gender specific”.

It says an amendment should oblige the State to “take reasonable measures to support care within the home and wider community”.

In addition, the Assemby says Article 41 should be amended so that it would “protect private and family life, with the protection afforded to the family not limited to the marital family”.

The assembly also believes maternity leave should be introduced for all elected representatives and gender quotas for party candidates should be extended by the end of 2022 to local, Seanad and European Elections.

It says there should be an increase in penalties for parties that don’t meet the quota and increase the threshold from 30% to 40% for both women and men.

The assembly members also want to make funding to public bodies contingent on reaching a 40% gender balance quota by 2025 and for gender quota legislation to be enacted that requires private companies to have at least 40% gender balance on their boards.

As far as childcare is concerned, they want a move to a “publicly funded, accessible and regulated model of childcare” over the next decade.

To this end, they believe the State share of GDP spent on childcare should be increased from the current 0.37% of GDP to at least 1% by no later than 2030.

They also say paid leave for parents should cover the first year of a child’s life, be non-transferable, provide lone parents with the same total leave period as a couple and be incentivised by increasing payment levels to encourage increased take-up.

The assembly also wants an increase in the minimum wage to align it with the living wage by 2025. Targets should also be set in legislation to reduce the hourly gender pay gap to 9% by 2025 and to 4% by 2030 with a view to eliminating it by 2035.

It also believes the State should hold technology and social media companies accountable for immediately removing online content that constitutes sexual harassment, bullying, stalking, sexually violent or abusive content. There should also be “special efforts” to improve the visibility of men “performing caring roles”.

At the announcement of the results, the Chair of the Assembly Catherine Day said: "Everyone has their own personal experience of gender equality – or inequality.

“The members of the Assembly considered factual information and different perspectives on a broad range of topics related to gender equality and then developed and voted on its priority recommendations.

“The recommendations the citizens agreed don’t just call for incremental change. They call for big changes that can make Ireland a better and more gender equal place to live for all of us. They call for change in our Constitution, for new laws and policies and for stronger enforcement.”

The final report of the Citizen’s Assembly on Gender Equality is expected to be presented to the Oireachtas and published in June.

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