You may be aware that the Government is holding two referendums on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Watch INMO Video here
The first Referendum concerns the concept of Family in the Constitution and proposes to expand the recognised definition of family to reflect the myriad types of relationships, homes and households that make up our rich and diverse society.
The second Referendum proposes to delete an existing part of the Constitution and insert new text providing recognition for care provided by family members to each other.
Both of these referendums are informed by recommendations made by the Irish Citizen’s Assembly on gender equality in 2020 and are aimed at inclusive definitions that reflect the realities of modern Irish life and are fit for purpose in modern society.
Your Executive Council met in a special session on Tuesday evening to discuss whether the INMO would take a position on these referendums, and the Executive took advice from civil society groups and carefully considered the proposed amendments, as well as the potential impact on our members and our society. Your Executive Council is now asking members to support a Yes Yes vote in both referendums.
Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution) currently has outdated language regarding women’s place in society and what a family should look like. By voting Yes in both referendums we can have a Constitution that recognises the care that women have traditionally provided in our homes while also recognising that care, as an integral part of family life, is undertaken by both women and men.
By making these amendments, your Executive Council believes we can obtain a constitutional basis for the equality of all members within a family and to all families across society.
As a union representing a predominantly female profession, the INMO has a responsibility to advocate for gender equality at work and in society. As nurses and midwives whose work and professions are viewed in large as a caring profession and by some as a “vocation”, voting yes in both of these referendums will help to ensure that the status of caring is elevated and firmly established in this important document.
The INMO Ex Council believes that attitudes to women in Ireland as currently enshrined in our Constitution, have contributed to systemic obstacles within nursing and midwifery that have held our professions back. Steps such as this which advance the position of women in Ireland are vital to ensuring economic and professional equality for our members.
We must view this as an important step in providing for appropriate recognition for women who work in caring professions and do so out of economic necessity, not as a vocational duty.
We will be issuing further information on why nurses and midwives should vote Yes - Yes over the coming weeks on our social media channels. Please keep an eye out.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha
INMO General Secretary
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