Tag Archive for Gender Budget

India budget 2013-14: Women let down again

India budget women

A look at the Union Budget of India this fiscal year through the gender lens reflects its gross inadequacies on most fronts. The government has done nothing to change its shameful track record on gender budgeting

By Vibhuti Patel

The Union Budget 2013-2014 has allocated Rs. 97134 crores for addressing gender concerns in the budget (less than 6 % of the total budget) and Rs. 77236 crores for children. This budget needs to be understood in the historical context of the social parameters of the country. India’s record for achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been extremely poor as compared to several African, Latin American and Asian Countries. In the international arena despite the attempt to portray a ‘Shining India’, the country has been named and shamed continuously for not being able to reduce its maternal and child mortality rates, wide spread anaemia and malnutrition among women and children, starvation deaths in certain pockets, sky rocketing prices of essential goods, namely food, water and cooking fuel.

It’s in this context one must examine the Union Budget 2013-14. Last year the allocation for gender in the budget was Rs. 18,878.5 crore. Due to sustained pressure from the women’s groups and gender economists, separate budget allocations for women and children were made in 2012 budget.

Budget for women in difficult circumstances
The financial allocation of Rs. 200 crore for the ‘most vulnerable’ groups including single women and widows is an eye wash. Such a paltry amount cannot support schemes like Swadhar, working women’s hostels, one-stop crisis centres, a national helpline and the effective implementation of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and the recently passed Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act.

Multi-sectoral Programme for reducing maternal and child malnutrition
This programme announced last year is to be implemented in 100 districts during 2013-14. It has been allocated Rs. 300 crores to scale up to cover 200 districts the year after. This is a grossly inadequate fund allocation which seeks to address 40% of children and 55% women in India who are malnourished.

Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)

The ICDS gets Rs. 17,700 crore for this fiscal year. In response to galloping inflation, the amount is quite inadequate. A successful implementation of ICDS requires nearly Rs. 3 lakh crore over the 12th plan period as per an estimate made by nutrition experts while allocation has been for Rs. 1.23 lakh crore. Besides this, financial provisions for social security and additional remuneration for Anganwadi Workers and ASHAs, the principal carriers of the flagship schemes have not been made.

Anti poverty programmes and National Health Mission

The budget has enhanced the allocation for anti-poverty programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Rs. 33000 crores) and the flagship centrally sponsored scheme for public health-National Health Mission (Rs. 21239) whose principal beneficiaries are women as they are the poorest of the poor. The allocation for women specific schemes for economics services, welfare services and social defense have been increased up to 8500 crores.

Public sector bank for women
The budget has also announced an allocation of Rs. 1000 for an all-women public sector bank in which both the management and clients are expected to be women. The state owned Women’s Bank will work for financial inclusion and empowerment of self help groups, women entrepreneurs, self employed women and support livelihood needs of women. At last, the state finds women bankable!

The Reserve Bank of India will have to complete all formalities of license of the women’s bank by October, 2013. Bitter experience with private micro finance institutions (MFIs) who behaved like financial sharks charging 24%to 48% interest, used Self Help Group’s as foot soldiers and drove poor women borrowers to commit suicide due to harassment, has made rural and urban community based organizations disenchanted with the private MFIs. In this context, the announcement of a public sector women’s bank has given new hope to community-based women groups.

Nirbhaya Fund for empowerment of women

The sustained agitation by Indian youth and women after the gang rape of the 23-year-old (who was named by media as Nirbhaya) physiotherapist in a moving bus on 16th Dec. 2013 shook the whole world. To appease the angry youth, the budget has announced Rs. 1000 crore as seed money for a ‘Nirbhaya Fund’. However, there is no clear mandate for this Fund – that it will be used for rehabilitation of survivors of sexual violence and acid attacks.

Inadequate funds for education
There is no increase in allocation to education as suggested by the Kothari Commission in 1966. The focus on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is not enough. Aspirations for higher education have enhanced exponentially among Indian Youth. Government aided higher education and vocationalisation of education is the need of the hour. The Union Budget 2013-14, has failed in its duty towards the masses by leaving higher education to the private sector.

No fund for housing for women

In spite of repeated demands from the women’s movement for over 30 years, specific allocations for safe houses and shelters for women who face domestic violence, incest, and for homeless women has not been made. Girls and women facing incest are forced to stay in the same house as their molester for want of a safe shelter. Homeless women remain ever-vulnerable to violence on the streets.

To win over middle and upper class women, the budget has offered an incentive of raising the duty free baggage limit for jewellery for women passengers to Rs 100,000, subject to some conditions.

From 2004 to 2013, 56 ministries have set up Gender Budget cells. But to make their fiscal policy gender responsive has been an uphill task. Galloping inflation has affected the toiling poor women of India adversely whose real wages have declined sharply. Due to the withdrawal of the state from the social sector, women’s work burden in the unpaid care economy (cooking, cleaning, nursing, collecting fuel, fodder, water, etc) has increased many-fold. The subordinate status of women manifests in declining child sex ratio i.e. ‘missing girls phenomenon’, deteriorating reproductive and child health, feminization of poverty, increased violence against women, enhanced mortality and morbidity among girls and women and deplorable condition of elderly women.

Suggestions

1. Efficient utilization of funds
The Ministry of Women and Child Development suffers from under-utilization of funds therefore there is need of increasing public awareness of all women specific schemes by effective communication through community radio/ FM channels, electronic and print media in all regional languages. Leaflets on each scheme with a simple format explaining the procedure should be provided to be distributed at the Gram Sabha, the District councils and the Public Relations Department of State Governments. A Central Help Desk for women must be established at Shastri Bhavan, Delhi to look into redressals’ in cases of apathy by the state government.

2. State government participation
In Centrally Sponsored Schemes, where the Centre gives 50% or 60 % or 75 % share of the funds and the state government is expected to give 25 %, the ministry should pressurize the state government to contribute its share of fund, land, building etc. so that schemes can be implemented.

3. Reduce processing days
Political decentralization must be supported by financial decentralization. Once the fund is parked in the ministry, schemes and programmes must be immediately clocked so that fund flow is made available to the local self government bodies within a month. Processing of proposals by women’s groups, SHGs and elected women representatives must be done within 15 days of submission.

Checks and balances that need to be in place make gender budgeting more effective

a. Provide for people’s participation in both budget making and its utilization to make expenditure process transparent.
b. Women’s groups and citizen’s organizations should use Right to Information to deal with bureaucratic apathy/antipathy, bungling, corruption and leakages.
c. The Ministry must clearly spell out various components of funds, functions and functionaries in a particular scheme/programme.
d. The government must build capacity of elected women representative with regards to budget making, proposal writing and proposal defending, maintenance of accounts, and RTI.
e. Evaluation Studies need to be commissioned to highlight the gap between plan outlay and outcome, local and global implications of pro-poor and pro-women budgeting, alternative macro scenarios emerging out of alternative budgets and inter-linkages between gender-sensitive budgeting and women’s empowerment.
f. Government departments must be sensitized about the visibility of women in statistics and indicators by holding conceptually and technically sound training workshops by gender economists.

Prof. Vibhuti Patel is active in the women’s movement in India since 1972 and currently teaching at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai

Union Budget 2012-2013: A gender audit

women at factory

A gender audit of the current budget, to assess whether gender commitments have been converted into budgetary commitments by the Government of India, reveals more shortcomings than successes.

By Vibhuti Patel

The Government of India introduced gender budgeting in 2004 to ensure that it’s policies and programmes actually receive the finances to make these commitments effective.

In the Union Budget 2012-13, Ministry of Women and Child Development has been allotted Rs.18500 crore (2012-13 Budget Estimate), an increase of 15 percent at current prices as compared to previous year’s Revised Estimate of  Rs.16100crore (2011-12).

However, the total magnitude of the Gender Budget (outlays earmarked for women) had declined from 6.1 percent (2010-11 Budget Estimate) to 5.8 percent (2011-12 Revised Estimate). Though, there is a marginal increase of 0.1 percent in 2012-13 over the previous year.

The number of Union Government ministries/departments reporting in the Gender Budgeting Statement (a statement about budgetary allocations that has a bearing on women) has remained stagnant at 33 for the sixth consecutive year. Except for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, there is no new addition.

Inadequate finance

The Steering Committee on Women’s Agency and Empowerment for the 12th Plan had suggested several important interventions to address the gender based disadvantages experienced by girls and young and elderly women. For most of the existing schemes, the outlays are extremely low as compared to those proposed by this Committee. Despite 2012-13 being the first year of 12th Five Year Plan, allocations for schemes such as STEP, Hostels for Working Women and Priyadarshini, have registered only a marginal increase over the previous year.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development had launched the helpline for women, developed distance learning programme on women’s rights, and implemented Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, provided relief to and rehabilitation of rape victims. However the amount allocated for these schemes is grossly inadequate. There is also no financial allocation for Swayamsidha Phase II, for self-employed women and women entrepreneurs, which was considered by the 11th Plan as the main agency for women’s empowerment.

Most of the government flagship schemes continue to rely on underpaid labour of women. In the Budget 2012-13, while the role of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHAs) – the backbone of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been enlarged, there is no mention by the Finance Minister to regularise their services. ASHAs will continue to get performance based remuneration on the targets they are able to fulfill.

The only saving grace in this budget is the effort by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), traditionally perceived as a male bastion. DST has launched several missions targeting women in order to promote women’s participation in scientific and technical fields,and to enhance women’s capabilities and choices. The new scheme of DST, ‘Disha’ in the Union budget 2012-13 is envisaged to facilitate the mobility of women scientists. There is an urgent need to replicate such efforts by other ministries based on practical and strategic gender needs of girls and women.

What Needs to be Done

For the past five years women’s groups have been demanding that the government review the format of the Gender Budgeting Statement but no progress has been made in this direction. Moreover the current budget has not addressed the long standing demands of women’s groups and gender economists with respect to budgetary allocation for;

Implementation of Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act. To halt the declining child sex ratio by judicious implementation of PCPNDT Act, 2002 so as to ensure stringent punishment to doctors and laboratory owners for abuse of sex determination and sex selection technologies

Implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Photos by Ramlath Kavil

Complete utilization of the 30% girls’ component within Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and special budgetary allocation for public education and increased publicity drive in print and audio visual media.

Special financial allocation must be made for the salary of crèche teacher and helper in schools. In all schools, one room should be converted into crèche so that poor girls, who have younger siblings to look after, can leave them in the crèche and attend the classes. This would enhance retention rate of girls in the school.

Enhanced budgetary allocation for the Public Distribution System (PDS) in order to strengthen the provision of good quality of food grains, oil and soap to ensure better nutritional standards. Funds for community based mental health intervention must be promoted.

Enhanced funds for protection and rehabilitation of child workers and children in difficult circumstances such as street children, trafficked children. NGOs and community groups should be encouraged to provide ward wise update on status and data base on child labour in Mumbai.

Social security and social protection for women in the informal sector, Small Scale Industries, FTZs, EPZs, SEZs Construction workers, rag pickers, scavengers, food-processing industries, sweat shops and garment industry. Budgetary allocation for implementation of Unorganized Sector Social Security and Social Protection Act, 2008 is imperative.

Vocational Training Institutions must be provided to impart women skills in non-conventional areas so that they can get employment as taxi/bus drivers, plumbers, fitters, turners, electricians, carpenters, cobblers, so on and so forth.

Ensure access to information, finance, training and marketing for women entrepreneurs, SHGs, vendors and self employed women.  Women entrepreneurs and traders must be given priority while allotting shops by public sector corporations and local government.

Budget for Crèche facilities, working women’s hostels and short stay homes must be enhanced many folds.

For making India  disabled friendly a detailed data base must be prepared on types of disability and number of people who are physically challenged.

Construct night shelters with toilets and baths for homeless women and girls with the help of centrally sponsored schemes as well as state financial allocation.

Community based half way homes, working women’s hostels and multi-purpose activity center to meet variety of needs of women and girls.  Half way homes and counselling centers must be created to address problems faced by elderly women and women who are physically challenged.

Support in the area of education, health; housing and skill development must be provided  to women headed households (FHHs)

Generate Gender Disaggregated Data to address strategic gender needs and practical gender needs of women in Mumbai.

Affirmative action to protect interests of women in difficult circumstances such as child prostitutes, homeless women, street girls, abducted girls, child brides, women suffering from HIV/AIDS, single women and elderly women.

Safe transport in terms of women special buses and local trains

Well maintained Public toilets for women.

Informal Sector

Considering women’s central role to the care economy, and the large numbers of women in unpaid work, policies need to focus on social services to support women’s care roles (old age, child care) and adequate resource allocations need to be made to support them.

Rural Sector

In the light of the present agrarian crisis and food insecurity the vulnerability of women farmers in particular needs attention. Women’s access to land needs to be strengthened immediately considering the huge gender disparities in land ownership patterns. This could be done by;

Women’s access to land needs to be strengthened

(a) Improving women’s claims to family land (b) Improving access to public land by ensuring that all land transfers for poverty alleviation, resettlement schemes, etc., recognize women’s claims (c) Improving women’s access to land via market through provision of subsidized credit to poor and by encouraging group formation for land purchase or lease by poor women.

Conclusion

Women’s rights organizations in India have demanded that the Government should ensure adequate gender budgeting in all ministries and departments, enact a comprehensive Food Security Bill, ensure universal PDS as a core component, allocate 6% of GDP for Health, allocate 6% of GDP for Education, make budgetary allocation to cover special schemes for women workers, increase allocation for women farmers, enhance resource allocation for tribal, dalit, and minority women and increase budgetary support for schemes to assist women-headed households and differently abled women.

In the absence of sex disaggregated data, evaluation of schemes through a gender lens or any effort at strengthening gender dimensions of existing schemes poses a big question. So, provision of such data should be prioritized.

The target of 30% gender allocations under all ministries has not yet been achieved. This must be implemented immediately. There is a crying need for a gender audit and gender outcome appraisal of all ministries and departments at the central and state levels. Very often, resource allocations made under gender budgeting do not reach in time and they remain unspent. There should be proper monitoring and supervision of the allocated funds with greater transparency and accountability at all levels.

Vibhuti Patel is active in the women’s movement in India since 1972 and currently teaching at SNDT women’s University, Mumbai.