Minister for Special Education, Josepha Madigan, has welcomed today’s establishment of a Special Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality, which has been set up to examine the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality.
Minister Madigan said, “Today marks a new chapter for Gender Equality in Ireland. For many decades, Irish women were often left behind in our society. The establishment of a new and dedicated Oireachtas Committee to examine the Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality provides a comprehensive pathway to ensuring that this never happens again.
“Our Constitution is our fundamental law and a statement of our values as a society. In recent years, the Irish electorate has helped to bring the Constitution up to date with our changing values, however, to this day there remains several outdated and legally meaningless provisions within its pages.
“Bunreacht na hÉireann does not seek to define the place of men. It therefore follows that it should not seek to define the place of women. Our Constitution should not narrowly define our roles in society. In today’s modern Ireland, both mothers and fathers carry out important family duties in the home, as well as grandparents, siblings, carers, and others. While many parents do choose to stay at home to raise their families, we should not discriminate against working parents, and working mothers in particular, who make an invaluable contribution to Irish society.
“As somebody who has a keen interest in constitutional reform, I look forward to Committee’s examination on the three major referenda suggestions, which have been suggested by the Citizens’ Assembly:
- Insert a new clause into Article 40 to refer explicitly to gender equality and non-discrimination;
- Delete and replace the text of Article 41.2 (Women in the Home) with language that is not gender specific and obliges the State to take reasonable measures to support care within the home and wider community; and
- Amend Article 41 so that it would protect private and family life, with the protection afforded to the family not limited to the marital family.
“The Programme for Government is clear in its aim of supporting the principle of equality and ensuring that every citizen can achieve their full potential. A number of key recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly have also seen important work carried out by Fine Gael in Government.
“The Gender Pay Information Act, which was signed into law in July of this year, now requires certain companies to publish information pertaining to the difference between hourly pay and bonuses paid to men and women in their companies. Work is also at an advanced stage to continuing to introduce a pension auto-enrolment system, which will ensure that many employees will be automatically enrolled into a quality assured retirement savings system. And in recent weeks, my colleague, Deputy Emer Higgins, introduced the Irish Corporate Governance (Gender Balance) Bill which will provide for corporate bodies to maintain a minimum of 40% gender balance on their respective boards and governing councils.
“There can be no doubt that work is being carried out by this Government to address the very many gaps that exist within our society. The establishment of today’s new Committee will allow this work to hasten.
“Gender Equality is most certainly the unfinished business of the 21st century. I look forward to continuing my role in rewriting the rules when they perpetuate injustice.”