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Beyond the age barrier

Raising women's marriageable age needs complementary efforts

Topics
Gender equality | Marriage | Law

Business Standard Editorial Comment  |  Mumbai 

The government’s decision to amend the to raise the legal for women from 18 to 21, on a par with men, is welcome as a means of attaining gender parity. The intent of the amendment is irreproachable — improve women’s health and lower the maternal and infant mortality rates, and increase the sex ratio at birth. But in a sense, these issues reflect a deep-rooted societal problem that views women as functional assets performing child-bearing and — rearing, and household duties. It is notable, for instance, that the taskforce, led by Jaya Jaitly, set up by the women and child development ministry, said access to education and livelihood must be enhanced simultaneously for the to be effective. In fact, the existence of a setting a marriageable age must be viewed against the fact that child remains a recurring issue in the third decade of 21st century India and, despite being outlawed, is impossible to monitor. More than a fifth of marriages (23 per cent) in India are child marriages, according to the data provided by the fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS, 2019-20). It is, therefore, unclear whether merely raising the marriageable age for women will deliver the desired results.

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First Published: Sun, December 19 2021. 23:16 IST
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