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National Women’s Council welcomes referendum on the family, family care and ‘women in the home’

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2023

The National Women’s Council (NWC) today (5 December 2023) welcomed the announcement of the referendum on family, family care, and ‘women in the home’ which will take place on 8th March 2024. We also welcome the referendum to extend the definition of the family beyond the marital family. NWC noted the significant change to the wording on care and will now consult with its members on the new proposed wording.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said,

“We welcome the announcement of this referendum which women have campaigned for since the insertion of the wording on ‘women in the home’ in the Constitution. This referendum is our opportunity to remove limits on women’s role from our Constitution and close this dark chapter of our past. The current wording never led to any positive supports for women and was at the heart of cruel, discriminatory policies such as the marriage bar which forced women out of their careers once they got married. As a result, women missed out on opportunities. They had to curtail their dreams and ambitions and many are still facing inadequate pensions and income in older age because of it.”

She continued,

 “While NWC would have liked to see the broader wording on care as suggested by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality included in our Constitution, we believe the proposed wording will be an important opportunity to value care within families. Care includes the emotional and practical supports that we all need at different times in our lives to participate and thrive. By recognising care within families we also acknowledge the important role that men play in relation to family care.”

Orla O’Connor said,

“Recognising family care in the Constitution is important, and it must also need to lead to practical supports that families need. This includes investment in a public childcare model and better paid family leave. Recognising family care must also mean addressing gender inequalities due to care in our pension system. And we must guarantee access to homecare supports for older people and supports and personal assistance for disabled people.”

NWC will now consult with our almost 200 member groups on the proposed wording by the Government and decide on how NWC can organise a possible referendum campaign.”


For more information, please contact Sinead Nolan, Communications and Social Media Coordinator, NWC, Tel. 085 861 9087.


 About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.  

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns.  

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.   

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie