And it’s that time of the year when we talk about all things budget!
On February 29th, the Union Budget for the year 2016-2017 was presented in the Parliament. While many sectors and reforms were discussed, our primary concern was how women were represented in the Budget, and what allocations were made for them.
In the Railway Budget, presented on 25th February, a 33% sub-quota for women under all reserved categories, was provided. In the Union Budget, there was a mention of special emphasis to sectors such as agriculture, irrigation, social sector including health, women and child development, welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and minorities.
The Government is also launching a new initiative to ensure that the BPL families are provided with a cooking gas connection, supported by a Government subsidy. This will significantly improve the health of women and those BPL families who suffer adversely from the ill-effects of Chulha cooking. provide LPG connection in the name of women members of poor households. The government has set aside a sum of 2,000 crore in this year’s Budget to meet the initial cost of providing these LPG connections. This will benefit about 1 crore 50 lakh households below the poverty line in 2016-17. The Scheme will be continued for at least two more years to cover a total of 5 crore BPL households.
The Union Cabinet has also approved the “Stand Up India Scheme” to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and women. 500 crore has been provided for this purpose. The Scheme will facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch, one for each category of entrepreneur. This will benefit at least 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs.
The Gender Budget Statement reveals some additional information. While allocations to National Mission for Empowerment of Women have doubled to Rs 50 crore, the increase is nominal for ministry of women and child development and National Commission for Women. Critical issues faced by women, such as violence, need to be reflected in budgetary priorities. Allocations for schemes to combat trafficking, and empowering adolescent girls have increased. However, the scheme meant for implementation of the Domestic Violence Act has not received any allocation.
While we applaud the various allocations and schemes which has been laid out by the Union Budget 2016-17, we hope that the implementation of these is successful. Also, we anticipate that future budgets increase the allocation provided to the women of the country, in order to create a more successful and equal society.
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