Raising women’s marriage age to 21 is a move towards empowerment

Raising women’s marriage age to 21 is a move towards empowerment


  • India has taken a progressive step to realise Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 5 categorically asks nation-states to formulate policies to achieve gender equality. The Centre recently gave a final shape to this goal by ensuring equality in marriage age by raising the marriageable age for women to 21 years.

India’s Step Ahead

  • India had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1993.
  • Since 1998, India has had national legislation exclusively on human rights protections drafted in consonance with international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

    Is it right to increase the age of marriage of women to 21?
    Credit: TH
  • India decided in 1954 with the Special Marriage Act that age must be one of the basic requisites of a valid marriage.


  • It has been established that child marriage exposes women to early pregnancy, malnutrition, and violence (mental, emotional, and physical).

Move towards empowerment

  • Protection of women against early and child marriage is a protection of their basic rights and this monumental step will lead to changes in related legislative frameworks to provide a comprehensive rights-based framework for the aadhi aabadi.
  • The regressive perception that marriage provides women with social protections and recognition needs to change
  • The equality in marriage age brought about by the Union government will add to its many initiatives to promote women’s education.
    • As per the All-India Survey on Higher Education, the enrolment of female students in higher education has increased from 46.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 49 per cent in 2019-20. The overall growth of female student enrolment between 2015-2020 has increased by 18.2 per cent.
  • It is notable that from Ujjwala to Mudra to Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, the largest section of beneficiaries of government schemes has been the women.
  • For the first time in Indian politics, we are witnessing remarkable levels of representation of women at crucial decision-making positions from the Union Council of Ministers to party structures. Women’s empowerment will get a further fillip with equality in marriage age.
  • The institution of marriage in India is one of the pillars that hold up the customs and norms of society.


  • Sometimes, objective equality is the need of the hour. Any justification — biological, social, or data and research-based — cannot justify the inequality in age between men and women to enter into a valid marriage.
  • The NITI Aayog task force constituted under the leadership of the Prime Minister has done a commendable job in proposing such a move to empower India’s daughters and sisters.

Source: IE

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