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Rajya Sabha to introduce ‘gender-neutral’ language

  • Published
    26th Sep, 2022
Context

The Rajya Sabha has decided to use gender-neutral terms in responses to parliamentary questions from the next session onwards.

About
  • The announcement came in response to a request made by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi last month.
  • As per conventions and Rule of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha, all proceedings of the House are addressed to the Chair.
    • Replies to the parliamentary Questions being a part of the proceedings are also addressed to the Chairperson only.
    • However, ministries will be informed to furnish gender-neutral replies to the parliamentary Questions from the next session of Rajya Sabha session.

What are the trends of gender-neutrality in the law making bodies in India and across the world?

  • Internationally, even mature democracies that legalised universal suffrage after India, such as Canada (1960 for Aboriginal women), Australia (1962 for Indigenous women), and the United States (1965 for women of African-American descent), have successfully adopted a framework for gender-inclusive legislation and communication.
  • In 2014, the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha were amended to make it entirely gender neutral. Since then, each Lok Sabha Committee Head has been referred to as Chairperson in all documents.
    Way Forward
    • The Supreme Court judgment in National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India, 2014, has given impetus to gender identity and has given the movement greater impetus.
    • There should be political will to amend legal documents to make them inclusive for all genders.
    • The Parliament must lead to sensitivity, equal treatment, and appreciation for the people of India, regardless of gender
    • The Indian Parliament can conduct gender audits. For example, in 2018, the U.K. Parliament conducted a gender audit to understand its culture, environment, and policies as a workspace.
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