Equality Referendum must be held in 2023 – Bacik

Ivana Bacik TD
15 December 2022

Speaking today at the launch of the final report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Gender Equality, ‘Unfinished Democracy’, Deputy Ivana Bacik called upon Government to commit to holding a referendum on equality in 2023, based upon the recommendations in the Committee report.

Chaired by Ivana Bacik TD, the cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee held a range of hearings during 2022 to consider the 45 recommendations produced by the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality. The report published today contains a recommendation as to the specific wording of the text for amending Articles 40.1 and 41 of the Constitution.

The proposed changes to Article 40.1 would reflect the Assembly’s wish to see constitutional recognition for the principle of gender equality; and for principles of equality and non-discrimination.

The proposed changes to Article 41 would remove the sexist language currently in the text referring exclusively to women and mothers as having a ‘life’ and ‘duties’ within the home.

Instead, the proposed changes would insert gender-neutral language to ensure that the role of care is recognised, valued and supported by the state.

The proposed changes would also ensure a more inclusive definition of ‘family’ beyond the family based upon marriage.

Apart from constitutional change, the report also sets out comprehensive recommendations on a range of other gender equality measures; on childcare, care and social protection; on measures to address Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV); on the role that education can play in challenging gendered norms and stereotypes; on the impact of pay and workplace conditions on gender equality; on how to achieve gender equality in leadership, politics and public life; and on how the gender equality principle can be protected through law and policy.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Ivana Bacik expressed thanks to all who had engaged with the work of the Committee, and called on the Government to ensure the timely implementation of all of the recommended actions set out in the report.

She said:

“In particular, we want to see a referendum held in 2023 to give effect to Assembly recommendations 1-3 on constitutional change; and we call on the Government to begin the preparatory work necessary for the holding of such a referendum.

“We also want to see timely implementation of the key recommendations of the Committee on achieving a publicly funded model of universal early years education and childcare – this is a crucial recommendation from the Citizens’ Assembly and we have set out a series of steps whereby this goal can be achieved.

“We look forward to the implementation of our recommendations, and to the achievement of a truly gender equal society. Until gender equality is achieved, our democracy will remain unfinished.”

Some key recommendations for government action in the report:

  • Hold a constitutional referendum in 2023 to give effect to the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations on constitutional change, on the basis of the wording proposed by the Committee.
  • Commission a ‘cost of care’ review that calculates the financial cost of unpaid care and examines the societal value of unpaid care.
  • Move from a model of privatised care provision towards a publicly funded, accessible and regulated model of quality, affordable early years education and childcare.
  • Ensure that the State takes over full responsibility for the remuneration of employees in the early years and childcare sector.
  • Develop and establish a National Planning Unit for Care, to foster better linkages and co-ordination on care policies across all relevant Government Departments.
  • Establish a Statutory Child Maintenance Agency to keep child maintenance out of the courts where possible.
  • Ensure that action on the Third National Strategy on DSGBV begins immediately.

ENDS

More information and Report in full – https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/committees/33/gender-equality/

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