Budget gives boost to women

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the budget on July 5, highlighting the importance of women in the economy. She presented the budget in style, carrying a red bahi khata and quoted Swami Vivekananda, “Naari tu Narayani is the country’s tradition.”Gender analysis of the budget aimed at examining the budgetary allocation through a gender lens has been in place for over a decade,” says Sitharaman.  She believes that India can make greater progress with increased welfare and involvement of women. Sitharaman mentions that previous initiatives such as Ujjwala Yojana and Saubhagya Yojana have benefited thousands of women from rural India.

Some  initiatives proposed in this budget include lowering interest rates for  Self  help groups (SHG) and verified women SHGs with Jan Dhan bank account will be allowed an overdraft of Rs. 5000. Additionally, one woman of every SHG will be eligible for a MUDRA scheme loan of up to Rs. 1 lakh. A proposal has been made to increase allocation of funds to Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which provides services including education, primary healthcare and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.

However, experts believe that allocation of funds to women and children is inadequate. “Further, the budgets allocated are often not utilized and the same gets spent on other projects. Women’s empowerment is not a priority in most state budgets either.” says Rajana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research.