Context: The Government of India has set up a Task Force to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), improvement of nutritional levels and related issues.
- Union Finance Minister, during her Budget Speech for 2020-21 in the Parliament stated that “Women’s age of marriage was increased from fifteen years to eighteen years in 1978, by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929.
- As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers.
- Hence the Finance Minister proposed to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time.
About the Task Force:
- The task force has been constituted with Ms. Jaya Jaitly as its Chairperson
- The Terms of Reference of the Task Force are as follows:
- To examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with
- health, medical well-being and nutritional status of mother and neonate/infant/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.
The Task Force will be provided secretarial assistance by the NITI Aayog and will submit its report by 31st July, 2020.
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.
Maternal Mortality Ratio(MMR)
- 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.
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, in the Imperial Legislative Council of India, fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years which was later amended to 18 for girls and 21 for boys.
- It is popularly known as the Sarda Act, after its sponsor Harbilas Sarda.