The Government has announced yet another referendum, this time on gender equality.
As the country observes International Women’s Day – an annual international celebration of women – Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reminds us that in Ireland females are still at a disadvantage.
“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.” said Varadkar as he announced the new referendum.
The Taoiseach continued saying he was “pleased to announce that the government plans to hold a Referendum this November to amend our Constitution to enshrine gender equality and to remove the outmoded reference to ‘women in the home’, in line with the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality.”
As Varadkar said the new referendum seeks to remove from the constitution – which the government seems to change more frequently than some people change profile pictures – the reference to ‘women in the home’.
He added, “My department will very shortly be convening an inter-departmental committee to develop policy recommendations for consideration by Government, with a view to agreement by Government of wording for the proposed referenda.”
One has to wonder, in what practical way have those words contributed to women in Ireland allegedly being oppressed and discriminated against?
And what possible benefit would be caused by their removal? Will the deletion and replacement of that phrase send shockwaves of good will across the nation like beams of light emanating from government buildings to embrace women and girls across the land in a warm golden glow?
I think not.
There are in Ireland a large contingent of voters who seem to believe that every referendum to change the laws surrounding ‘the current thing’ be it gay marriage, abortion, etc, will grant them a level of peace and happiness they did not previously enjoy.
I often think of a comment made by Gript editor John McGuirk in the aftermath of the riotous outpouring of glee witnessed on the streets of Dublin at the passing of the abortion referendum.
Thousands of people, some literally in tears, celebrating their new right to kill their own unborn children should they so desire.
John said that those same people, having celebrated themselves silly over abortion, were likely just as miserable and disaffected as ever before only a few weeks later.
How will this referendum be any different?
It comes to mind that referendums in this country are increasingly less about the will of the people and more about the government orchestrating a national vote to get a signature on a dotted line.
They sweeten the people up with promises of how much better things will be when we sign off on what they want.
Will the deletion and replacement of a few words and sentences make rapists think twice about assaulting women and girls? Will it make violent partners change their ways? I think the answer is obvious.
So once again it seems that the Irish government’s proposed solution to the nation’s problems is to distract the public with something else.
The image comes to mind of the government shaking a set of keys in front of a baby’s face to make him or her forget what they were upset over.