What are the implications of the 2017 budget on women?
“For welfare of women and children under various schemes across ministries, I have stepped up allocation from Rs 156,528 crore of 2016-17 to Rs 184,633 crore in 2017-18,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
The government would set up Mahila Shakti Kendras at village level in 14 lakh anganwadi centres with a total allocation of Rs 500 crore.
“This will provide a one-stop conversion support system for empowering rural women with opportunities for employment, skill development, digital literacy, health and nutrition,” he said.
The minister added that a nationwide scheme for pregnant women was announced earlier by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31 last year under which Rs 6,000 will be directly transferred to bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children.
In First Post , Ilya Ananya argues
Gender budgeting itself is based on the argument that the outcomes of policy reform aren’t usually gender neutral and can end up adversely affecting minorities. Of course, the government doesn’t seem to have thought about it as something other than women-specific schemes. As Priyanka Chaturvedi and Vidisha Mishra argue in their piece in The Hindu, the idea of gender budgeting, it seems, is to rigorously look at every policy decision through a gendered lens rather than having just these few women-specific schemes: Something that last year’s budget certainly didn’t do. And while women this year were wondering about demonetisation, tax cuts, housing loans, and benefits for start-ups, it seems like things haven’t changed much, despite numerous reports about how a lot more women were involved in the budget-making process this year.
As Priyanka Chaturvedi and Vidisha Mishra argue in their piece in The Hindu,
Last year, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report ranked India 87 in terms of gender equality in economy, education, health, and political representation. Women’s declining labour participation, under-representation in Parliament, skewed child sex ratio, and prevalent gender-based violence are recognised challenges. To bridge these gaps, India formally adopted Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) in 2005. The rationale behind GRB is that policy outcomes are not as gender-neutral as commonly believed, and can reinforce or exacerbate exiting hierarchies. Hence, gender budgeting initiatives aim to integrate critical gender concerns into fiscal policies and administration to address disparities.
For it to be truly effective, GRB must be viewed as an essential tool to tackle societal inequality that hinders progress instead of a symbolic exercise for pleasing the emerging women constituency. So far, GRB has focussed on identifying schemes that are exclusively dedicated to women. While this focus is imperative, it has restricted benefits without the incorporation of a gender lens across all welfare schemes. Sectors such as energy, urban development, food security, water supply and sanitation continue to operate in silos, despite having causal interrelationships with women’s empowerment. Policies carried out by these sectors do have a different impact on men and women. Therefore, moving forward, every budget presents the opportunity to mainstream gender in the policy environment, and demonstrate the commitment to include and enable women’s inclusion in India’s growth story. Equally, women’s potential in enabling development, instead of being passive beneficiaries of it, must be recognised in these processes. Commendably, the MoF organises pre-budget consultations. It must be ensured that women are given adequate representation and opportunities to voice their different experiences on such platforms.
So, what are the gender implications looking at all allocations in the budget? And how would one go about doing such an analysis.
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