Rajya Sabha Secretariat has instructed all ministries to furnish replies to Parliament questions in gender neutral terms.

The instructions came in response to an objection raised by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi to being addressed as “sir” by departments/ministries. In a letter written to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, Chaturvedi pointed out that parliamentary correspondence does not factor in the sensibilities of the women MPs.

“In the answers provided for the questions raised in Parliament, the phrase ‘No, Sir’ is often used where the answer is in the negative,” Chaturvedi pointed out.

Gender Mainstreaming

She said it is important for the “temple of democracy – Parliament” to ensure gender mainstreaming.

“Our Constitution is based on the principle of equality. I request you to kindly look into this practice and issue appropriate directions to address the concerned parliamentarians as per their respective gender only. Although this may seem like a small change, but it will go a long way in giving women their due representation in the parliamentary system,” the Shiv Sena MP said.

Responding to her letter, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said while all proceedings of the House, including replies to parliamentary questions, are addressed to the Chairperson, appropriate instructions have been issued. “The ministries will be informed to furnish gender neutral replies to the parliamentary questions from the next session of the Rajya Sabha,” said a letter addressed to Chaturvedi by the Director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat.