In a landmark decision, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has directed various ministries to use gender-neutral terms from the next Parliament session.
The decision came in response to a letter written by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi seeking to change the usage of phrases such as ‘no sir’ which is often used in replies in the House.
In her letter dated September 8, the Maharashtra MP had said that it was “concerning to observe institutional gender mainstreaming” by Parliament itself, which is a “temple of democracy”.
She urged the minister to issue appropriate directions to address the concerned parliamentarians as per their respective gender. “Although this may seem like a small change, it will go a long way in giving women their due representation in the parliamentary process,” she said.
To this letter, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat replied, “as per conventions and rules of procedure and conduct of business in Rajya Sabha, all the proceedings of the House are addressed to the Chair, and replies to Parliamentary questions being a part of proceedings are also addressed to the chairperson only. However, the ministries will be informed to furnish gender-neutral replies to the parliamentary questions from the next session of Rajya Sabha onwards.”
In a tweet thanking Rajya Sabha for the initiative, Chaturvedi said it will make a big difference even though it’s a small step.
“Small step, big difference. Thank the Rajya Sabha Secretariat for correcting the anomaly in Parliament question responses from ministries to women MPs. Henceforth the replies will be gender neutral from the ministries (sic),” she tweeted.