Friday 6 July 2018

Ireland 'step closer' to gender equality after referendum on women’s place in home clause announced

Irish academics have said the country is a “step closer” to achieving gender equality after the government announced it was to hold a referendum to remove a clause marking the importance of a woman’s “life within the home”.

The move on Thursday was the latest to update Ireland’s socially conservative 1937 constitution to reflect a more secular and socially liberal population.

It will give Irish people a say on whether to remove a clause that “recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved”.

A second clause obliges the state to “endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.

Arguing against the provision, justice minister Charlie Flanagan said: “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 went on to say that the article “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.”

Laura Cahillane, lecturer in Law at the University of Limerick, told The Independent the referendum was significant in the campaign to reverse the treatment of women as “second class citizens” under the current Irish constitution.

“As a teacher of constitutional law, every year when I get the students to look at the constitution they always zone in on this clause and ask why it’s there. They’re reading it and going ‘this isn’t us – this doesn’t represent us, why is it in here?’” she said.

“Removing it is not going to change anything in practice, but at the same time it builds upon a lot of the changes that have already been made, and I think all of that helps in terms of attitudes towards women generally. It’s another stepping stone.

“In this constitution in particular, women have felt like second class citizens to a certain extent because of the various things that were brought in by this particular constitution, but now a lot of stuff has been reversed. This is one of the last pieces of that puzzle.”

It comes after the country voted in a major referendum earlier this year to allow access to abortion, and a referendum introduced gay marriage into the constitution in 2015.

The vote will be held on the same day as Ireland’s presidential election, which is due by November.


No comments:

Post a Comment