Gender inequality, gender bias, gender discrimination, gendered violence, every word on this list is an issue faced by people across the world, including India. While discrimination can take place against any gender, women tend to be the victims of such disparities more frequently. Specific measures need to be taken by the government to incorporate women-centric policies and schemes.
Gender Budgeting or Gender Responsive Budgeting involves analysing the country’s budget, its impact on both men and women and allocating the resources accordingly. Gender budgeting seeks to achieve gender equality and reduce gender disparities. Since a long period of time women in our society have faced many gender-based disadvantages in areas such as job opportunities, wages, health, education etc. Hence, women would benefit more when special policies and schemes are implemented in the fiscal budget of the country. Gender budgeting can hence, be a vital tool to tackle gender disparities in the country.
India formally adopted Gender Budgeting in the year 2005. The union budget has a gender budgeting statement which has two parts-
Part A – Women Specific Schemes, i.e. those which have 100% allocation for women.
Part B – Pro Women Schemes, i.e. those where at least 30% of the allocation is for women.
Overall, the Gender Budget allocation for Financial Year 2018-19 is Rs. 121,961 crore which is an increase from Rs. 113,311 crore in 2017-18.
Noticeable Schemes under gender budgeting:
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is an initiative which targets the issue of decrease in child sex ratio and educating girls. It got raised to Rs 280 crore from 200 crore in 2017-18. There have been several other schemes where incentives are provided for secondary education, reducing the number of female school dropouts and hostels for girls. Numerous cases of infanticide and foeticide practises are a severe blow on the child sex ratio. The dowry system in the society sees a girl as a burden to the family and their education is neglected. In such scenario schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao can be of great help.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojana is providing free LPG gas connections. In rural settings, it’s mostly women or girls who have to do the cooking. A significant amount of time is spent in gathering fuel for cooking and they get prone to respiratory diseases as well as have lower life expectancy due to smoke inhalation from the woodfire in traditional stoves. Providing free LPG gases is empowering as it enables them to have access to clean cooking fuel and make the cooking process safer for them.This year the estimation of LPG gas connections have increased from 5 crore to 8 crore for poor women.
The maternal mortality rate of India contributes to the world’s by 15%. The Maternity Benefit Programme offers partial wage compensation to pregnant and lactating women to provide adequate nutrition and rest before and after labour. Decline in allocation is seen in 2018-19 union budget.
The Nirbhaya Fund was created in 2013 to fund the schemes and initiatives taken towards women safety and protection in public spaces. This year the fund received an additional allocation of Rs 550 crore. The Indian Railways are strengthening the security by installing CCTV cameras in railway premises and trains. State governments have set up an emergency helpline number, medical assistance, and increased police patrolling, etc.. Compensations are provided to victims of violence and abuse. One-stop centres facilitate women and girl victims with medical and legal aid and counselling support.
Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is a pro women scheme which supports women labour. The 2018-19 budget reduced the women employee’s contribution in EPF to 8% from 12%. This is supposed to encourage employers to hire more women employees since the government would be paying the additional amount of the EPF on their behalf. The women will get larger salaries in hand due to this change and thus, may be more open to be part of the work force.
The patriarchal ideology which prevails in our country sees women as an inferior gender. It creates gender disparities in society where both the genders suffer. Patriarchy has led to preference of a male child over a female child. Thus, India’s sex ratio is 1,000 boys for 940 girls. As women are considered unfit to do many jobs, female labour participation is low as compared to male. The dowry system, gender based violence, deprivation of education and healthcare, lack of equal opportunities in social spheres puts them in a vulnerable position. As a result of it women continue to be severely oppressed. Gender Budgeting would help bringing about gender equality and empowering women. Only allocation of resources, though, is not enough. In order to make gender budgeting more effective, the departments and ministries coming up with schemes and policies should also focus on designing, implementing, monitoring, reviewing and changing policies when required.