“No, Sir” No More, Parliament Makes Gender Neutral Rule After Sena MP’s Letter

Parliament Mandates Usage Of Gender Neutral Terms
In August, Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote a letter addressed to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs requesting a reform in the Parliament. MP Chaturvedi raised a concern that required some steps to facilitate a gender neutral approach while addressing fellow parliamentarians during sessions. The Sena MP received a reply from Swarabji B. recently that furnished the use of only gender-neutral replies in the sessions. The MP took to her social media to share the reply calling it a significant step.

Parliament makes gender neutral rule compulsory for its sessions moving forward, stating that all ministries will now be informed to only make replies that are considerate of all genders and not address just particular a gender like it always has been.

Suggested reading: Priyanka Chaturvedi: It’s a Golden Moment for Women to be in Politics

Parliament Mandates Usage Of Gender Neutral Terms

“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,” tweeted Chaturvedi.

In August MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote the letter emphasising the need to make parliament sessions’ conversations more gender-neutral which, she mentioned, should foremost begin with how ministries address women. 

Her letter read: “In the answers provided for the questions raised in the Parliament, the phrase ‘No, Sir’ is often used in cases when the answer is negative. As a woman parliamentarian, it is concerning for me to observe the institutional gender mainstreaming by the temple of democracy – Parliament itself.”

The MP had pressed on the fact our constitution is based on the principle of equality, and it would only be a matter of time when parliamentarians are addressed with their respective gender only. She added that while this may seem like a small change, it would prove to be a big step in giving women their due when it comes to representation in Parliament.

The reply that the Sena MP received read, “The Ministries will be informed to furnish gender-neutral replies to the Parliamentary questions from the next session of Rajya Sabha onwards.”

There are thirty-three women MPs presently in the Rajya Sabha, known as the upper house of the Parliament. Women in leadership positions even today are addressed as ‘sir’ because of the mainstream addressing of males as the higher authority. With MP Priyanka Chaturvedi’s drive to help bring a change when it comes to fair representation of how women MPs are addressed, it feels like a big difference in shaking the biased power structures that prevail in the Parliament.