Child marriage is a global problem. Around 15 million girls become victims of child marriage every year across the world. The UN says that more than 21% of young women and 4% young men in the world were married before they turn 18. At present, 650 million girls and women alive were married before their 18th birthday. Africa has the most recorded marriages – more than 70% of its girl population. India contributes about 40% of child marriages across the globe. It is a global issue that is plaguing Nepal, Middle East, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is an issue even in developed countries like USA and UK. Massive efforts have been undertaken by countries and the UN to prevent child marriages. In the last decade, the proportion of women who were married as children decreased by 15%. Around 25 million child marriages were prevented in the last decade. South Asia showed the largest decline in the prevalence of child marriages. India too has seen a significant decline in the prevalence of child marriage. However, more efforts are necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal within 2030.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, addressed the problem of population explosion in India. He termed those who opt for smaller families as patriots. He argued that the development and prosperity of the nation begin only when all the individuals are healthy and resourceful. He appealed for the public effort to reduce the population at the ground level. This speech comes with the backdrop of the UN Population Projections report that estimated that India will be the most populous country in the world through the current century.
Women, who were long considered to be the “weak sex”, in recent times, have made far-reaching achievements in almost all walks of life. However, India, despite having had a woman prime minister, chief ministers, and president, does not show any remarkable progress in the political and social empowerment of women.
The idea of women empowerment seems to have lost the vigour it had enjoyed during the time of freedom movement when Mahatma Gandhi mobilized as many women as men during the freedom struggle.
Nowadays, there is a need for special political interventions for the inclusion of equal representation of women in Indian politics as even the prominent female political representatives are feeling marginalised within their respective parties.
Many women politicians in the electoral and party politics are an ineffective minority within their political parties while the male politicians dominate the functioning of the political party.
Therefore, political interventions like Women’s Reservation Bill are a need of the hour to address the social shackles that are suppressing the equal representation of women in Indian society.