jaya-jaitley-task-force-on-age-of-marriage-for-women-summary

Context: Recently, the task force set up to take a relook at the age of marriage for women has submitted its report to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

More on the news: 

  • The panel was formed to decide on the “right age of marriage” for women.
  • There are imperatives of lowering MMR as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. 

Background:

  • In her Budget speech (last year), the Finance Minister of India had proposed a panel on the “age of a girl entering motherhood”. 
    • The main objective was to lower maternal mortality rates and improve nutrition levels. 
    • Women’s age of marriage was increased from fifteen years to eighteen years in 1978, by amending the erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929. 

About the Task Force:

  • The task force has been constituted with Ms. Jaya Jaitly as its  Chairperson.
  • Terms of Reference: 
    • To examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with 
      • Health, medical well-being and nutritional status of mother and neonate or infant or child, during pregnancy, birth and thereafter. 
      • Key parameters like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR), Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB), Child Sex Ratio (CSR) etc.
    • To suggest measures for promoting higher education among women.
    • To suggest suitable legislative instruments and/or amendments in existing laws to support the recommendations of the Task Force.
    • To work out a detailed roll-out plan with timelines to implement the recommendations of the Task Force.

Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR):

(Image source: ToI)

  • MMR is a key performance indicator for efforts to improve the health and safety of mothers (before, during, and after childbirth).
  • It is calculated as the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.
  • According to the recently released Sample Registration System (SRS) 2015-2017 bulletin for MMR, India’s MMR has declined from 130 per 1 lakh live births in 2014-2016 to 122 per 1 lakh live births in 2015-2017. 

Concerns:

  • Can be used against those marrying without consent: Women’s rights activists have opposed the suggestion of raising the age of marriage from 18 to 21 for women, as such a move may be used to incarcerate young adults marrying without the consent of their parents.
  • A tool to control population growth: It is widely believed among policy watchers that the “age of marriage” issue is a deception for controlling population growth.
  • Instead of taking coercive steps, the government must ensure access to education and employment for women which will help delay the age at which they get married.

Source: Sanjeevni Today