The Government of India in a gazette notification issued on 04thJune 2020, has set up a Task Force to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering 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. There are imperatives of lowering MMR as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time..” (Ref.: Para 67 of the Budget Speech for FY 2020-21).
The composition of the Task Force is as under:
- Ms. Jaya Jaitly (New Delhi) – Chairperson
- Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog – Member (Ex-officio)
- Secretary, M/o Health and Family Welfare – Member (Ex-officio)
- Secretary, M/o Women & Child Development – Member (Ex-officio)
- Secretary, D/o Higher Education – Member (Ex-officio)
- Secretary, D/o School Education & Literacy – Member (Ex-officio)
- Secretary, Legislative Department – Member (Ex-officio)
- Ms. Najma Akhtar (New Delhi) – Member
- Ms. Vasudha Kamath (Maharashtra) – Member
- Dr. Dipti Shah (Gujarat) – Member
The Terms of Reference of the Task Force are as follows:
- To examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with (a) health, medical well-being and nutritional status of mother and neonate/infant/child, during pregnancy, birth and thereafter, (b) 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. and (c) any other relevant points pertaining to health and nutrition in this context.
- 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 may invite other experts to its meetings if and as required.
- The Task Force will be provided secretarial assistance by the NITI Aayog and will submit its report by 31st July, 2020.