Cabinet approves proposal to raise marriageable age of women to 21 years


Marriage age of women: Union Cabinet on December 15, 2021 cleared a bill to raise women’s legal marriage age from 18 to 21 years after reviewing a proposal from a specially constituted task force. The task force had made its recommendations after holding extensive consultations with experts and young adults, especially young women.

The present legal marriageable age for women is 18 years and for men it is 21 years. The decision to raise the marriageable age of women will bring the marriageable age of men and women at par. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first announced this plan during his Independence Day address in 2020. 

As per reports, following the cabinet’s approval of the proposal of raising the marriageable age of women, the centre is expected to introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and consequently bring amendments to the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. 

Jaya Jaitly Task Force

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development had set up the special task force in June 2020 to examine various matters pertaining to the age of motherhood, lowering Maternal Mortality rates, improving nutritional and other related issues. 

After reviewing all matters, the task force submitted its recommendations to Niti Aayog. The task force had received some objections from certain quarters. 

Headed by Jaya Jaitly, the task force comprises Niti Aayog member Dr. V K Paul and Secretaries of the Women and Child Department, Health and Education ministries and of the Legislative Department. 

The task force was constituted to look at the feasibility of increasing the marriage age and its implication on women and child health and how to increase access to education for women. 

Task Force recommendations

Besides raising the marriageable age of women to 21 years, the task force has recommended sex education to be formalised and introduced in the school curriculum.

It has also recommended training of women in polytechnic institutes, skills and business training and livelihood enhancement as a means to ensure that an increase in marriageable age can be implemented. 

Why was the task force formed?

The government decided to form the task force to re-examine marriage age for women due to various reasons including to reduce Maternal Mortality Rate, infant mortality rate and improve overall health and mental wellbeing of women and their children and for the empowerment of women who get cut off from education and livelihood after early marriage. 

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