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Ireland to hold poll on constitutional references to women

Ireland's once deeply conservative. society has liberalized in recent years.

(AFP) — Ireland is to hold a referendum on removing decades-old articles in its constitution including a reference to the place of women in the home, the government announced on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar outlined a timeline for the national poll in November, acting on recommendations made in previous years to remove what he called "outmoded" references in the republic's 1937 constitution.

It was written when a puritanical brand of Irish Catholicism held sway over public and private life. Article 41.2 in the constitution specifies that "by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved".

It adds that "mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home".

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In recent years, Ireland voted by large majorities in referendums to open up abortion laws and allow same-sex marriage.

The polls were seen as indicators of a wider liberalization of Ireland's once deeply conservative society. 

"For too long, women and girls have carried a disproportionate share of caring responsibilities, been discriminated against at home and in the workplace, objectified or lived in fear of domestic or gender-based violence," Varadkar said.

Amending the constitution would "enshrine gender equality" and "remove the outmoded reference to 'women in the home'", he added.

A plan published by the Irish parliament last year recommended the article be removed and replaced with non-gender-specific language in reference to government support for homes and communities.

It also urged changing other parts of the constitution to include new explicit references to gender equality and protection to the family not limited to married families.

Before any such amendments can be made, they require an electoral mandate.

The government said it will aim to publish the proposed referendum questions by the end of June.

Categories:Civil Rights, Government, International, Politics

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