An 'outdated' provision in Ireland's Constitution describes women's duties in the home. A referendum seeks to delete it.
July 6 at 12:09 PM Email the author
Three abortion rights campaigners take a break May 12 in Castlerea, Ireland. Later that month, Irish voters decided to overturn the nation's ban on abortions. (James Forde for The Washington Post)
It's been one referendum after another in Ireland â" and now the government is adding one more to the docket. On the same day Irish voters take to the polls for the country's next presidential election, slated for this fall, they will also vote on whether to remove a clause in Ireland's Constitution that suggests women should prioritize work inside their homes.
Article 41.2 of Ireland's Con stitution says that the state recognizes âthat by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.â
On Thursday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement that the government proposes deleting the clause and hopes âto use the opportunity of the referendum to have a public debate about gender equality in Ireland.â
Article 41.2, he added, âhas no place in our Constitution.â
âIt undermines today's goal to achieve real gender equality by ensuring women have real choices about what to do with their lives,â he said.
In 2017, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission released a report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women stating that gender stereotyping remains common in Ireland. During th e group's research, âwomen and girls frequently expressed the view that stereotyping, traditional gender roles and prejudice impacted adversely on their lives,â the report said. It added that Article 41.2 is âevidence of such stereotypingâ because the text âpresumes that women occupy primary carer roles within the home.â
In March of last year, following a review of whether Ireland has properly implemented the U.N. convention that prohibits discrimination against women, the U.N. committee urged the government to remove Article 41.2 from the Constitution.
Another of the U.N. committee's concerns was the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which restricted abortion in the country. That law was overturned in a landslide referendum vote in May.
Sex abuse scandals have contributed to the Roman Catholic Church losing much of its influence in once socially conservative Ireland, and the results of recent referendums show just how much the country has changed.
In 2015, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in a widely watched referendum. And following the vote in May to legalize abortion up to 12 weeks, it was announced last month that another referendum would be held this fall on whether to overturn a law against blasphemy, which carries a fine of up to $30,000. âBy removing this provision from our constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist,â Flanagan said last month.
After the abortion ban was overturned, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called it âthe culmination of a quiet revolution.â
Both the blasphemy vote and the referendum on a woman's place in the home are expected to coincide with the presidential vote, which should occur by November.
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