Unfinished Democracy: Achieving Gender Equality

On the 14th December, the Joint Committee published its final report on Gender Equality after considering the weighted recommendations by the Citizen’s Assembly. The Committee agreed these recommendations should form the foundations for achieving true gender equality in Ireland.

In 2005, the Economic and Social Institute (ERSI) reported that one-third of the population participated in caring activities. This was further broken down by gender; 48% women and 23% men (McGinnity and Russell, 2008).

Although there have been efforts to reduce the gender pay gap, men currently earn approximately one-sixth more than women in Ireland. Inequalities in retirement still remain as women over 65 receive a pension that averages 29% lower than that of men (Eurostat, 2019).

According to Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council (NWC):

“This cultural assumption that women are society’s natural carers, coupled with the gender pay gap, also means women predominately fill the gap left by the State’s chronic underfunding of care. We see a Constitutional reform as a way of reframing the value our society puts on care.

Valuing care includes supporting women and men to combine unpaid care with paid employment through better, paid family leave and accessible, affordable, quality childcare.”

Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Hold a constitutional referendum in 2023 to insert gender-neutral language, remove text exclusive to women having a ‘life’ and ‘duties’ within the home and ensuring a more inclusive definition of ‘family’
  • Commission a ‘cost of care’ review that calculates the financial cost of unpaid care
  • Develop and establish a National Planning Unit for Care, to foster better linkages and co-ordination on care policies across all relevant Government Departments


How we understand the nature of care work and the value of care, is pivotal to our society and to women’s equality. If this can be reflected in our constitution, this may also be a positive step towards addressing the increasing care needs of our population throughout our life cycle.

To read the report in full, you can access it HERE.