In a patriarchal society like India where father's name is carried as a legacy, a government panel has proposed to list mothers as first guardian for all legal purposes. Touted as a move to empower and strengthen the position of women in the society, the panel has recommended that women should be made equal guardians of their children.
The recommendation by Planning Commission also suggested that there should be a review in all the laws related to the matter to ensure that mothers get the equal rights. Though mother's name has always been mentioned in all the official documents, this move will establish the role of mother in child's life. The children need not carry their father's name and can even use their mother's name for all official purposes.
At present, fathers are mentioned as the first guardian in all official documents, including birth certificates, school and college admission forms, passport, etc. The suggestion if accepted, will allow using mother's name instead for all these purposes. The suggestion will prove beneficial especially to those women who are divorced or widowed and will safeguard a woman's first right over her child.
This suggestion by government panel will help a lot in cementing the status of women in society says Vipul Shrama, a Delhi High Court advocate.
“In Indian society, fathers are given more recognition than mothers who primarily looks after the child. She is not given enough recognition by her family and the society as well” said Sharma.
According to him this move will help the mothers in getting their due and an official recognition.
The suggestion by panel is in accordance with a series of measures to make laws more gender friendly. The laws relating to maintenance and guardianship are also asked to be revised by the panel.
As senior journalist Ira Jha puts it, “ A father may provide financial and material security but it is a mother who raises a child and helps them in creating a personality.”
She said that it is sad that in a country like India which worships goddesses like Kali, Lakshmi and Durga, it is unfortunate that women don't enjoy same status in terms of parenting. She also cited an example of her friend Manimala, who was the first person to fight and win a case in Patna High Court regarding the usage of her mother's name in all the official documents.
Though it's still early to predict what change will it bring in the society and how much will it affect the stand of women in parenting. Nonetheless the move is still welcomed because it will at least give a head start in the direction of equal parenting.