Due to the increase in basic education and amenities being provided to women in the country, India is looking to change the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21. Since 1978, the minimum legal age for marriage has been 18 for women and 21 for men.

The Wire / Reuters

However, this might soon change with the progressive decision of the centre to set up a task force. The task force will re-examine the matters related to motherhood and marriage at an early age. This includes the mortality rates and medical well-being of the mother and child. 

Centre sets up task force to examine age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering maternal mortality rate, improvement of nutritional levels and related issues. 

-Ministry of Women and Child Development

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In February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that this decision is important and will be looked into again in the span of the next six months. 

Women’s age of marriage was increased from 15 years to 18 years in 1978 by amending erstwhile Sharda Act of 1929. As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers. Entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time.

-Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister

This judgement, if passed, will have a huge impact on child marriages since a UNICEF study showed that 27% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. Setting a higher age will enforce stricter laws around marriages in the country.