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NWC launch #VoteYesYes Referendum Campaign

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2024

#VoteYESYES – for family, for women, for equality

National Women’s Council launches their Referendum Campaign calling for a Yes vote on March 8th 2024
Thursday 25th January 2024

The National Women’s Council (NWC) today launched its referendum campaign and is asking the public to vote Yes on both referendum questions on March 8th.

Sexist, stereotypical language has no place in our Constitution and is representative of a time when women were treated like second-class citizens. The current definition of family, which only recognises those which exist within the bonds of marriage, is shaming and stigmatizing to the countless families who exist outside of marriage, yet are not recognised or protected by our Constitution.

NWC is calling for a Yes+Yes vote on March 8th, to enshrine equality for women and families into our Constitution.

Speaking upon the launch of the campaign, NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:

“A woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be. We are calling today for the sexist, stereotypical reference to women’s place in the home to be removed from the Constitution and replaced with a recognition of the shared responsibility of care. Article 41.2 never led to any supports for women to work solely within the home, but underpinned discriminatory practices, such as the marriage bar, and the exclusion of women from many sectors of society.

Limiting women’s role to the home copper fastened the absence of State support for care inside and outside of the home and the recognition of the role of men. A Yes vote removes this limiting language from our foundational legal document and sends a strong signal to men that they can, and should, play an equal role in looking after their families.

A Yes vote also means a strong call on the State to support the provision of that essential care. Government must deliver real, practical action and investment for care such as a public childcare model ,better paid family leave, a universal pension for all, guaranteed access to homecare supports and personal assistance for disabled people.”

We also need an updated definition of family, so that it reflects the reality and diversity of family life in Ireland today. . All children and families deserve equal recognition and protection from our Constitution. A Yes vote will recognise and value all families, including but not limited to families based on marriage.”

Catherine Day, Chair of the Irish Citizen’s Assembly on gender equality 2019-2021 said:

“The Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality made several recommendations for Constitutional change.  The citizens voted overwhelmingly to extend the protection of the family beyond the marital family.  They also recommended deleting article 41.2 (woman in the home) and replacing it by non-gender specific language obliging the State to take reasonable measures to support care within the home and wider community.  I cannot speak now for those citizens since the Assembly’s work has finished but I would encourage them, and all our fellow citizens, to vote YES in the upcoming referenda.  The proposed wording does not go as far as the Assembly recommended, but it does build on its recommendations and citizens can continue to press for greater support for care in the community."

Ailbhe Smyth, social justice campaigner said:

“Article 41.2 is a relic of a profoundly patriarchal and narrowly catholic view of the world which bears no relation to contemporary Irish society. Women have spent the best part of a century protesting and campaigning against a world view in which men occupied the public sphere and women were confined to a life of domesticity. We have roundly and successfully rejected that view in social movements, referendums and in our laws. It does not align with our values and it most certainly does not reflect the realities of women’s lives today.  In fact, it never did. The offensive misogyny of Art.42.1 shaped attitudes and behaviours towards women for far too long, and our lives been scarred and restricted as a consequence. We have had to fight tooth and nail for every inch of our equality, and we won’t stop now. We are not the Ireland of that dinosauric past, we are modern Ireland and we believe in equality for women and men; we believe in an Ireland that values care and puts a greater obligation on the State to support that care. We believe in equality for all families whether or not they are based in marriage. And we can demonstrate that with a Yes Yes vote on March 8th.”

Sarah McEntee, lone parent and supporter of a Yes+Yes vote said:

“I'm a lone-parent and I'm supporting a Yes+ Yes vote because I want to be recognised equally in the Constitution, both as a carer and as a family. I have been parenting completely alone for over 14 years, working both inside and outside the home to provide for my children and I feel that Article 41.2 is discriminatory, shaming and stigmatising against lone parents like myself. I am no less deserving of recognition in the Constitution for the care I provide in the home.

I feel that the current definition of family is damaging and discriminating against many families who exist outside marriage, including my own. My family and my children deserve equal protection and recognition in the Constitution. We need a Yes+ Yes vote to provide equality for all women, carers, and families."


For more information, please contact Vicky Masterson, NWC, Tel. 087 1000385 Silke Paasche, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104  

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.

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