TomorrowMakers

Union Budget 2019 – how does it impact the women of India? Let's take a look at the promises made and the assurances given.

Budget 2019: Initiatives specific to women?

The Union Budget of 2019 was presented earlier this month by India's first full-time women finance minister, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman. The objective of this article is not to talk about the entire budget and its ramifications on the Indian diaspora; instead, the focus will be on the initiatives proposed for women in this budget.
 
The presentation opened with optimism when our FM quoted Swami Vivekananda: "There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved". And several of her announcements did reflect the same.
 
At the outset, Ms Nirmala spoke of assessing the budget with a gender lens, for which there are plans to set up a committee. Instead of creating women-centric projects, there is a need to create women-led initiatives. This should prove beneficial to the countless women who do not avail of state-sponsored benefits simply on account of not being aware or not having access to the program itself.
 
What do the numbers say?

Women who are verified members of the SHG and hold a Jan Dhan Bank account will receive Rs 5,000 over and above their savings. Additionally, at least one woman will be eligible for a loan of Rs 1 lac under the MUDRA scheme.

When it came to budgetary allocations, there were some positive developments. The Women and Child Development Ministry received a 17.7% increase in its budgetary allowance, with the amount going up from Rs 23,356.50 crore to Rs 27,584.37 crore. Anganwadi services benefited with an 11% hike in their grant taking it to Rs 19,834 crore.
 
Several other schemes also came under the aegis of the Finance Ministry and received noticeable hikes. The two biggest beneficiaries were child protection services which saw its allocation increasing by 62%, thus touching Rs 1,500 crore, and working women hostels which got a two-fold hike reaching Rs 165 crore.
 
Safety of women was not ignored, and schemes related to this serious issue have got Rs 500 crore earmarked under the Nirbhaya Fund.
 
But before that…

Before these allocations bring forth change, there is also the need for an in-depth analysis related to women's requirements and interests.
 
The government must find ways to turn the focus on the impact analysis of various schemes and programmes. The schemes should be designed around the exact needs of women at each level of the budgeting process. This will ensure optimum utilisation of resources.

While the Self-Help Group scheme and loan provision is a good initiative, steps must be taken to impart women with skills and the confidence for entrepreneurship. Till date, most rural women-only venture into businesses in the area of beauty parlours, tuition centres, food processing, etc. which are small-scale industries. As more women take part in the Make in India and Skill India initiatives, one will see greater overall community development.

Increasing the budget to ensure women's safety is a commendable initiative; it can be strengthened further by ensuring on-ground implementation. Bringing electricity to every household in rural India, for instance, will make the areas around homes safe for girls and women after dark.

Conclusion

The women of India wait eagerly for the budget to translate into tangible benefits for them. In the meantime, the best bet would be to become acquainted with the nuances of the 2019 Budget. Have a look at How is the 2019 Budget going to help Self Help Groups? to gain a better understanding of how women led SHGs will be impacted post-Budget.
 

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