Ireland's Prime Minister Micheal Martin says the legacy of the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 is still divisive today
In recent years, Ireland revised the 86-year-old Catholic-rooted constitution to remove bans on abortion. AFP News

Up to three planned gender equality referendums will take place in Ireland in November 2023. The referendums will take place to remove "outmoded" and refer to women's role in society. Amendments could be made to Articles 40 and 41 of the Irish Constitution, which references "the place of women in the home" and controversies surrounding family life and divorce.

Article 41.2 of the Irish Constitution currently states that "mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home."

If the vote passes, the language that references to women's responsibilities in the household, would be replaced with gender-neutral language regarding care responsibilities, and the prejudiced declaration that recognises the special protection of families founded in marriage would be removed.

On International Women's Day, March 8th, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar released a statement saying: "I am pleased to announce that the government plans to hold a referendum to amend our constitution to enshrine gender equality and to remove the outmoded reference to 'women in the home'."

Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, announcing the gender equality referendum.

Leo Varadkar explained how he views the language used in the Articles as "discriminatory" against women and divorce, declaring that "it doesn't have a place in our constitution in the 21st Century."

"We need to consider a more inclusive definition of family that goes beyond those solely based on marriage – reflecting what is the reality of modern Irish life," Mr Varadkar added.

The Irish Prime Minister also stated: "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."

Leader of the Labour Party, Ivana Bacik, said in her committee report: "It has been long agreed that the way in which women and mothers are referred to in Article 41 is based on outdated gender stereotypes and should have no place in a constitutional text. In addition, the definition of family in the same Article has long been criticised for being insufficiently inclusive of diverse family forms in contemporary Ireland."

In recent years, Ireland revised the 86-year-old Catholic-rooted constitution to remove bans on abortion, to legalise same-sex marriages and the Gender Recognition Act was passed.

Minister O'Gorman has planned to publish the scheme of one or more referendum bills by the end of June, with the exact wording being formulated in the next few months. The bills will then be considered by the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, and the Electoral Commission will be briefed.

The National Women's Council shared their support for the constitutional change as it, "recognises the reality of women's lives and ambitions in modern Irish society, the true diversity of families, and the importance of care for all society."

To many people, this referendum seems like another progressive step towards achieving gender equality in Ireland. However, some members of the public have concerns about the reasons why this gender equality referendum is necessary.

A public response to the gender equality referendum announcement.

A popular vote is required, for any changes to be made to the Constitution. The bill that legalised abortion and same-sex marriage, was passed due to large majorities.