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Upcoming referendum is opportunity to advance women’s rights and equality

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2023

A delegation from a coalition of civil society organisations, including the National Women’s Council, One Family, Treoir, Family Carers Ireland and SIPTU, today (Tuesday, 3rd October 2023) met with representatives of the Irish Women’s Parliamentary Caucus to highlight the importance of the upcoming equality referendum for advancing women’s rights and equality and creating a more inclusive, caring society.

Rachel Coyle, Head of Campaigns and Mobilisation with the National Women’s Council said:

"The upcoming equality referendum is a historic opportunity to have a national conversation on the values and principles that we want to see shape our future. It is our chance to remove limits on women from our Constitution and instead insert wording that recognises the value of care and the roles that people play to provide supports for people to live independently in our society."


“These are issues that go to the heart of women’s rights and equality. For too long the State has relegated responsibility for care to individuals – mainly women but also men – and an underpaid and undervalued, predominantly female workforce. Equally, our current approach to providing supports for disabled people or older people, for example, does not ensure equal opportunity to participate in our society."

“As a result, people have fewer opportunities to engage in activities, including paid employment and participation in political and community life and they often face a lower, more precarious financial situation with long term consequences in terms of pensions and financial stability in older age.

“To create a genuinely inclusive Ireland, we need to build systems that enable disabled people, older people and others to have the supports they need to participate in their communities, while also resourcing and recognising the people who provide these supports in both paid and non-paid roles.”  


“We are calling on Government to publish the wording for the upcoming referendum without further delay so that we can have this national conversation.”

Damien Peelo, CEO of Treoir said,

“We all know that family is much broader than just legal or biological relationships. When we talk about family, we are talking about love, care and the relationships between people. Today, Ireland's family life is increasingly diverse. The number of children born outside of marriage is rising, with 43% registered in 2022. 

“The upcoming referendum is our chance to reflect this reality of family life in our Constitution and recognise all family types equally, including but not limited to the family based on marriage.

“All families, including the ones with children in them, need recognition, support and protection by our Constitution. We are calling on the Government to publish the wording for the upcoming equality referendum without further delay.”



For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications and Membership, 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.

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. Find out more on www.nwci.ie

About Treoir

Treoir was founded in 1976 and is the national federation of services for unmarried parents and their families. Treoir along with its member agencies, promotes the rights and welfare of unmarried parents and their children and advocates on their behalf. Treoir recognises the diversity of Irish families and believes that all families, including non-marital families, should be valued equally and receive the same level of protection and support from the state. Treoir provides information to non-married parents on areas of family law, available supports for families, and supports for successful shared parenting. We endeavour to always look for ways to enhance our information provision and help families to realise their rights. www.treoir.ie/

About Family Carers Ireland

Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 500,000+ family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction. It provides a range of services and supports for family carers through its Carer Support Centres nationwide and through its National Freephone Careline 1800 24 07 24. See www.familycarers.ie for more information.

Our vision is an Ireland in which family carers and young carers are properly recognised, supported and empowered. Our mission is to highlight the contribution of family carers to Irish society and to improve the lives of family carers throughout the country. We believe that no one should have to care alone.

About One Family

One Family is Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the askonefamily national helpline on 01 662 9212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. For further information visit: www.onefamily.ie


SIPTU is Ireland’s largest trade union representing over 180,000 workers from virtually every category of employment across almost every sector of the Irish economy. SIPTU is the representative body of Ireland’s care professionals including workers in healthcare, home care, elder care, childcare, intellectual disability, physical disability, community care and social care. www.siptu.ie