Raising Marriageable Age for Women (31 October 2020)
Raising Marriageable Age for Women (31 October 2020)
Why in News:
Govt to Take Decision on Right Age of Marriage for Women Soon: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16th October assured the girls of the country that the government will decide the right age for marriage as soon as a concerned committee gives its report. "Discussion is underway to decide the right age for marriage of our daughters. From across the country, daughters have written to me asking why the concerned committee has not given its decision yet. I assure you that as soon as the report comes, the government will act on it," Prime Minister Modi said during an event to release a commemorative coin of ? 75 denomination to mark the 75th Anniversary of India's long-standing relation with the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, sets minimum age of marriage at 18 years for women and at 21 for men.
In June this year, the Centre had formed a 10-member task force under Jaya Jaitley, to recommend whether the legal age of marriage for women could be changed from 18 years.
The proposal to raise the legal age for marriage of women carries “enormous" economic and social gains for India, according to a State Bank of India report.
The report titled, "Increasing the legal age of women’s marriage: A dominant strategy for societal good, financially empowering women," counts benefits such as lowering maternal deaths and improving nutrition levels in the near term to putting more girls in college and enabling women to achieve greater financial independence in the long-term.
Summary of the Debate
Economic benefits of Raising Marriageable Age for Women:
- The female labour force participation in India is hovering between 25 and 28 percent and in the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, it is around 80 percent. The global average is around 60 percent.
- When women's marriage age will increase, women will get opportunities to pursue higher education and careers and It will allow more women to get into labour force.
- If the women are highly educated and skilled, the nation’s productivity certainly goes up.
- In a country like India, if the women are highly educated and skilled, she rubs shoulder to shoulder and the productivity is at the highest.
- If India has to grow at the level that it is anticipating and become a $ 5 trillion or $ 20 trillion economy, it is necessary to use every bit of labour that is available in our country and women are part of that labour.
Challenges faced by women:
- There are still so many families who consider a girl to be a burden due to the safety and security of the girl.
- According to a research note by SBI Ecowrap, 35 per cent of females in India are still married before the age of 21 years.
- Because of the pressure from the society, most of the families like to get their daughter married at an early age.
- Large section of the rural women is not able to get basic education and basic health facility and just raising the age at marriage is not going to improve the plight in any way.
- Child marriage is a factor of poverty, it is a factor of lack of access to education for girls.
- When families are steeped in poverty, when they do not have money to send their children, mainly the girls to school that is when they consider them as a burden and just wanting to get rid of them.
- In India, women are highly malnourished, and their nutrition level is so low and when they produce children, the children suffers from stunting and wasting.
Benefits of women being financially independent:
- It improves the status of a woman in the family and outside the family.
- She does not have to look up to her husband or her in-laws to get paltry sums of money.
- It improves the self-esteem of a woman.
- If the women are highly educated and skilled and trained, she can be confident of leaving the marriage and living alone.
- Once a woman is financially independent, she become a beautiful asset for the family.
- It will lead to social benefits like lowering Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) as well as improvement of nutrition levels.
- Just raising the age of marriage is not enough, it is important to ensure that women are given the right kind of opportunities, right kind of skill sets and the right kind of education as well.
- We need to bring about a change at the level of society, at the level of the mindset.
- It is important to enact and enforce legislation and develop and implement policies that promote gender equality.
- We need to increase the age of marriage of girls, but we also have to ensure that we look at this issue holistically and ensure that the existing laws are well implemented and women are treated on par with boys and men.
- When a woman is educated and financially independent, the entire family and ecosystem benefits.
- It is very necessary for any society to make sustainable progress to empower our women and for that two most important things are the quality of education and the skills and for that it is very necessary that they are not under pressure of getting married at an early age.
Important points made by the Guests
Shankar Aggarwal, Former Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development
Ruby Bhardwaj, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Delhi University
Prof. Charan Singh, Economist & CEO, EGROW Foundation