MPs seek more women members to discuss Bill on marriage age

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Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev, the only woman member of the Parliamentary committee entrusted with examining the Bill that proposes to raise the marriageable age of women from 18 to 21, has demanded that the panel’s meetings be opened to all women MPs.

On Monday, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, pitching for more representation and participation of women in the discussion around the Bill.

“It is of utmost importance that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account and that voices of all, especially women are heard and understood by the committee,” she wrote.

The 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, chaired by BJP member Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, will examine the Bill that was introduced in Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament.

On Monday, Dev wrote to Sahasrabuddhe, requesting him to open the committee’s meetings to all women MPs, contending that it can be done under Rules 84(3) and 275 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha).

“I wish to propose that any woman member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be empowered to testify either in writing or in person before the committee on this issue,” Dev wrote. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have 81 and 29 women members, respectively. “I am sure all my honourable female colleagues will have much to contribute to the discussion on this issue.”

Lok Sabha MP and DMK leader Kanimozhi also expressed her displeasure over inadequate representation of women in the committee. She tweeted, “There are a total of 110 female MPs but the govt. chooses to assign a bill that affects every young woman in the country to a panel that has 30 men and only 1 woman. Men will continue to decide the rights of women. And women will be made mute spectators.”

Chaturvedi stated that it is “disheartening to note that a Bill so pertinent to women and Indian society will be deliberated upon in a committee where the representation is highly skewed”.

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