Answers to Parliamentary questions will now use gender-neutral terms, after Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi’s request to drop the use of just “sir”.
She had last month written to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, “Answers provided for the questions raised in the Parliament, the phrase ‘No, Sir’ is often used in cases where the answer is in negative. As a woman parliamentarian, it is concerning to observe the institutional gender mainstreaming by the temple of democracy – Parliament itself.”
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. pic.twitter.com/1m0hxBGmvn
— Priyanka Chaturvedi🇮🇳 (@priyankac19) September 21, 2022
Today, the Maharashtra MP shared a reply she got from the Rajya Sabha Secretariat dated September 20. It said, “All proceedings of the House (including replies to Parliamentary questions) are addressed to the chairperson… However, ministries will be informed to furnish gender-neutral replies… from the next session of Rajya Sabha onwards.” While the current chairperson is a man, it’s not clear if replies said ‘madam’ when a woman held the chair.
Anyhow, convention says the same gender-neutral terms be now followed in the Lok Sabha as well.
Ms Chaturvedi had argued in her letter: “Our Constitution is based on the principle of equality… Although this may seem like a small change, but it will go a long way in giving women their due representation in the parliamentary process.”