For all the uninitiated, gender budgeting as a concept was introduced into 2005-2006, to bring in gender equality. It's simple. What a man earns is different from how much a woman does! Let's not get into gender pay gap. But with this disparity in income, the taxes applicable result in a major difference between how much a man saves and a woman saves. Shouldn't there be some equality established?
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According to the Global Gender Gap Index, India stands at 114 of the 142 countries. Honestly, even though women form a grand 48 pc of the total population in the country, the government allocates only around 5 pc of the total budget that focuses on women.
Many say that during Modi government's tenure, there has been a 27 pc increase in budget allocation for the Women and Child Welfare department, 9-folf jump in Nirbhaya fund, and 500 cr rupees in 14 lakh anganwadi centres for empowering rural women, called Mahila Shakti Kendras.
Let me delve deeper. Nirbhaya fund saw an expenditure of 430 cr rupees of the 1530 crores. Nobody knows what happened to the 1130 cr rupees that's remaining. Even today there's news of an 8-month-old raped brutally in the national capital. Fast track courts, conviction rates are still proceeding at snail's pace. 500 crores for 14 lakh centres in the name of Mahila Shakti Kendras translates to a paltry sum of 3571 rupees per centre. Is that enough for empowering the rural women.
Shouldn't women look at equal economic opportunities than being considered as beneficiary segments? Needs in terms of sanitation, food security, water supply differ from men and women. It's a pity that netas consider physical infrastructure as investment, and social infrastructure as cost.
Will Budget 2018 take the first step at least to incorporate the true characteristics of gender budgeting?