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Countess Submissions: Referendums on Family, Care and Gender Equality

On 19th May 2023, we submitted the following document to the consultation on Referendums on Family, Care and Gender Equality. We are pleased to see our reasoning echoed in the argument offered by the government in their decision to drop the proposed third amendment, which is something we suggested. We are proud to defend the Constitution as a living document and our State’s founding legal text.

We intend to campaign against the deletion of Article 41.2 which states:

1° In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
2° The State shall, therefore, 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.

It is our view that, whilst old-fashioned in wording, the original text acts as a bulwark against neoliberal economics, which devalues mothering as a social function and views working outside the home / adding to the GDP as the only estimable choice.

In addition, we are concerned about the broader attempts to erase the words ‘woman,’ ‘mother,’ ‘girl,’ and ‘female’ from language and law under the guise of inclusivity. After all, it was our advocacy and campaign victory with ‘These Words Belong To Us’ that stopped the government from removing ‘woman’ from maternity legislation.

The current wording of Article 41.2 protects mothers, and moreover, it protects their choices. It is utterly misleading and indeed disingenuous for the government or any other actors to suggest that it forces women to stay at home and not work. This is simply untrue. It protects and honours the role of mothering in the home and for the greater good. Of all stay-at-home parents, 95% are mothers; therefore, reducing them to carers erases the role of mother.

As the 1937 wordings clearly state, this function is unique and of immeasurable worth to society. Far from concretising or causing inequality, it, in fact, acknowledges the reality of women’s lives as they raise their families and run their households. Moreover, no woman or male carer has been discriminated against by virtue of this article. It should stand, and we intend to campaign to ensure this happens.

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The Countess