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What Does Budget 2007-08 Offer Women?

A closer look at the gender budgeting statement in the Union Budget 2007-08 reveals that programmes and allocations remain plagued by "mistakes", with several schemes wrongly prioritised as being exclusively for women. The fact that women have begun to figure in the annual financial exercise of the government is a laudable step, but there remains a need to prioritise women in all development schemes of the government.

Insight

What Does Budget 2007-08Offer Women?

A closer look at the gender budgeting statement in the Union Budget 2007-08 reveals that programmes and allocations remain plagued by “mistakes”, with several schemes wrongly prioritised as being exclusively for women. The fact that women have begun to figure in the annual financial exercise of the government is a laudable step, but there remains a need to prioritise women in all development schemes of the government.

YAMINI MISHRA, BHUMIKA JHAMB

There is growing awareness of gender sensitivities of budgetary allocations. Fifty ministries/departments have set up gender budgeting cells…We have made a sincere effort to remove the errors that were pointed out in last year’s statement.

– Excerpts from the finance minister’s budget speech for Union Budget 2007-08.

T
his is reason for cheer. Public expenditure until a couple of decades ago was perceived as gender neutral. So were budgets. The struggle of the women’s movement to get the government to even accept the notion of gender budgeting, to then take it on and subsequently to get the government to prioritise, has been a long drawn one and this is a considerable achievement. The statement of the finance minister also shows a level of openness on the part of the government in accepting mistakes1 as pointed out by a civil society organisation and efforts at correcting those.

The gender budgeting statement that is being presented as part of the union budget documents for the third year now is an important document to look at, since it reveals in black and white, the seriousness of the government’s commitment to the women of this country. Government commitments, unless backed by funds, are meaningless. This year’s budget was also important for two more specific reasons. First, because Budget 2007-08 is the fourth of the five budgets that the UPA government will present. Thus, this was the second last chance for the UPA to allocate resources for the promises made under the National Common Minimum Programme, where one of the six basic principles of governance spelt out is a commitment to empower women politically, educationally, economically and legally and ensure equality for them. Secondly, 2007-08 is the first year of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan and, therefore, Budget 2007-08 should have reflected the changes in priorities for women. The Tenth Five-Year Plan had set out certain monitorable targets for women which included reducing gender gaps in literacy and wage rates by at least 50 per cent in 2007; reduction of maternal mortality rate to 2 per 1,000 live births by 2007; increasing the representation of women in premier services and the parliament, etc. Disappointingly, the report of the Mid Term Appraisal of the Tenth Five-Year Plan, in the very next paragraph (where it mentions these targets), accepts unapologetically that “the goals appeal almost impossible to achieve”.2 The Approach Paper to the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, with its focus on seeking to “include the excluded” sets out its target as “…the 11th Plan Strategy for gender equity must pay attention to all aspects of women’s lives…from freedom from patriarchy to specific issues such as clean cooking fuels, care for pregnant women, dignified spaces for violated women...”. While the details of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan are still to be finalised, the plan is no less ambitious in any manner and thus allocations need to reflect these priorities. If the process of five year plans is to be taken as a serious exercise, then annual budgets have to reflect these priorities.

This paper attempts to scrutinise the gender budgeting statement presented in the Budget 2007-08. Section I highlights major thrusts of the gender budgeting statement, including the magnitude, the breadth and depth of the exercise. This section also highlights the anomalies corrected in the statement and those that still remain. Section II is an attempt to scrutinise the pool of money available to women, as per the gender budgeting statement, for its priorities. Three distinct lenses have been used for this purpose – sectoral, human rights and those of women most marginalised and vulnerable.

I Gender Budgeting Statement

The gender budgeting statement presented in the budget, the third one of its kind, is an attempt by the government to cull out from its budget documents, the amount of money that is targeted at women. In a nutshell, the statement says that according to the budget estimates, Rs 31,177.96 crore will be used exclusively for women in the year 2007-08. Like the previous years, the statement comprises of two distinct parts – Part A details schemes in which 100 per cent allocations are for women and Part B reflects schemes where the allocations for women constitute at least 30 per cent of the provisions. This section examines this statement in details. The magnitude: The total magnitude of the gender budget has gone up from Rs 22,251.41 crore for 2006-07 (Revised Estimates) to Rs 31,177 crore in 2007-08 (Budget Estimates), an increase of almost 40 per cent, which is substantive despite the rate of inflation. As a percentage of total union government expenditure, this constitutes a rise from 3.8 per cent to 4.8 per cent. (For 2007-08 BE, the total expenditure of the government has been taken as Rs 6,40,521 crore, excluding the Rs 40,000 crore of non-plan transaction to be undertaken in 2007-08 relating to transfer of RBI’s stake in SBI to the government.) As a percentage of GDP at market prices, this is an appallingly low figure of 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent for the

Economic and Political Weekly April 21, 2007 years 2006-07 and 2007-08, respectively. And just to remind ourselves, women constitute more than 48 per cent of India’s population (2001 census).

Table 1 presents some basic dimensions of gender budgeting statements over the years. The breadth: As clearly depicted by Table 1, there has been an increase in the number of ministries and departments undertaking gender budgeting exercises that form the basis of the gender budgeting statement of the government, i e, it has expanded up to 33 demands for grants under 27 ministries/departments and five union territories. The finance minister in his budget speech this year has also pointed out that 50 ministries/departments have set up gender budgeting cells, so there is a strong likelihood that in the coming years more and more ministries and departments will be part of this exercise. This is encouraging. Since gender budgeting being a rather recent endeavour, a larger number of ministries and departments preparing these statements reflects, if not anything else, at least the growing realisation within the government about the relevance of this exercise.

It is also encouraging that this exercise is limited not just to the historically perceived “women related” ministries, even ministries and departments like department of science and technology, department of biotechnology and department of industrial policy and promotion, have undertaken this exercise. Though, it must be pointed out that several important sectors for women like water supply and sanitation, which have huge gender dimensions, still do not find a mention in the gender budgeting statements presented in successive union budgets.

The depth: The finance minister’s acknowledgement of the errors in last year’s statement was encouraging. Several mistakes in last year’s statement have been corrected. For instance, the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has been shifted from Part A of the statement to Part B of the statement. This reflects the acceptance that ICDS is a scheme primarily for children and not for women. This has important implications on the gender budgeting statement as allocations for ICDS have been significant and this scheme alone consumes as much as 89 per cent of the allocations of the ministry of women and child development.3 Likewise, similar mistakes in the allocations under ministry of health and family welfare and the ministry of social justice and empowerment in last year’s gender budgeting statement have also been corrected.

Unfortunately though several mistakes remain in this year’s statement too – ranging from calculation errors to errors due to lack of clarity on the concept and more importantly, errors resulting from patriarchal ways of analysing also are still to be found in the gender budgeting statement. Some of these are:

– 100 per cent allocations on contraception under department of health and family welfare have been treated as exclusively for women reinforcing the stereotype that anything to do with contraception and family planning is exclusively for the benefit for women and women’s concerns. By that logic then 100 per cent allocations on defence could also be treated as “exclusively for women” since it provides “security” to women! Moreover, the ministry’s own performance Budget 2006-07 reveals that each year from the period 2002-03 to 2004-05, condoms form clearly the largest quantity of contraception supplied by the ministry, far outnumbering the supplies of contraceptives that women use, like oral pills, IUDs, tubal rings, etc.

  • 100 per cent allocations under the Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) have also been treated as exclusively for women. One possible justification for this could be that the guidelines under the scheme require the allotment of the dwelling units should be in the name of the female member of the beneficiary household. However, the performance Budget 2006-07 of the department of rural development says that in 2004-05, of the 15.16 lakh houses constructed, 7.38 lakh were allotted to women, 4.32 lakh were allotted jointly to husband and wife and 2.72 lakh were allotted to men. Similarly, for the following year (figures available for until December 2005), 4.95 lakh houses have been allotted to women, 2.55 lakh in joint names and 1.47 lakh to men. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that entire allocations for IAY scheme are womenspecific.
  • Under the ministry of labour and employment, 100 per cent allocations under the head ‘Improvement in Working Conditions of Child/Women Labour’have been put as exclusively for women, though the scheme has been put in Part B of the statement. This is again incorrect because allocations under this head goes to two schemes – the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and the Indo-US Matching Grants Project (Indus Project). However, the Annual Report 2005-06 of the ministry of labour and employment reveals that the girl child constitutes about 56 per cent of the total enrolment of children in the scheme, remaining are boys. To then
  • Table 1: Summary of the Gender Budgeting Statement

    Year No of Demands in Years Total Allocations under Total Allocations under Total Magnitude of
    Union Budget Covered Part A of the Statement** Part B of the Statement*** Gender Budget
    GB Statement presented in 2005-06 10 2005-06 BE Rs 14,378.68 crore Rs 14,378.68 crore
    (Allocations were not divided in Part A and B that year) (4.74 per cent*)
    GB Statement presented in 2006-07 24 2005-06 RE Rs 8,273.88 crore Rs 15,966.63 crore Rs 24,240.51 crore
    (4.77 per cent*)
    24 2006-07 BE Rs 9,575.82 crore Rs 19,160.71 crore Rs 28,736.53 crore
    (5.10 per cent*)
    GB Statement presented in 2007-08 33 2006-07 RE Rs 4,618.95 crore Rs 17,632.46 crore Rs 22,251.41 crore
    (3.8 per cent)
    33 2007-08 BE Rs 8,795.47 crore Rs 22,382.49 crore Rs 31,177.96 crore
    (4.8 per cent*)

    Notes: * Proportion of Total Union Government Expenditure. ** Part A presents women specific provisions where 100 per cent provisions are for women.

    *** Part B presents women specific provisions under schemes with at least 30 per cent provisions for women. Over the three-year period, the number of demands for grants covered has grown and this could be an important factor in the increasing magnitude of the total allocation.

    Source: Gender Budgeting Statement, Expenditure Budget Volume I, Union Budget – various years.

    Economic and Political Weekly April 21, 2007

    Figure 1: Scrutinising Gender Budgeting Statements from a Sectoral Lens Sectoral Lens Analysis

    2006-07 RE AG and O

    LivelihoodHousing 1%

    12%8%

    Protection 1%

    Food

    Health 18%

    Security 31% Security and

    andEducation NutritionNutrition38% 22%22%

    Note:AG and O refers to Awareness Generation and Others.

    put 100 per cent allocations under NCLP as exclusively for women, is wrong. Likewise, for the Indus Project, the percentage of public expenditure on women/girls is approximately 44 per cent of the total public expenditure under the scheme for the year 2004-05. Therefore, once again considering 100 per cent allocations under the scheme as exclusively for women is wrong.

  • Several schemes under ministry of youth affairs and sports, although slated in Part B of the statement, have put 100 per cent of its allocations for women. This includes schemes like Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, National Service Scheme, youth hostels, National Service Volunteers Scheme, Rashtriya Sadbhavana Yojna, Institute of Youth Development and other schemes relating to talent search and training. As the names of the schemes suggests, they cannot be exclusively for women. A perusal of the annual report brought out by the ministry also does not indicate these schemes as exclusively for women. Thus, by any stretch of imagination, 100 per cent allocations under these schemes cannot be treated as exclusively for women, unless one argues that promoting national harmony (‘rashtriya sadbhavana’), searching for talent among the youth, etc, have not become only the agenda of women of this country!
  • There also seem to be some discrepancies in the figures for Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) under the department of health and family welfare. RCH-II, Flexible Pool features in Part A of the statement and again in Part B of the statement, with different figures. Part A reveals that Rs 1,725 crore has been allocated for 2007-08 BE and Part B indicates that Rs 1,546.11 crore has been allocated for
  • 2007-08 BE AG and O

    Housing 8% 1% Livelihood 13%
    Protection
    1%
    Food
    Education

    Health 24%

    2007-08 BE. Moreover, the total allocations cannot be a sum of Part A and Part B either as this figure would then be higher than what is mentioned in the Expenditure Budget Volume II (Union Budget 2007-08) for the same scheme.

    II Composition of the GenderBudget Pool

    It is important to look beyond, at the gender budgeting statement as a pool of Rs 31,177.96 crore. One needs to broaden the analytical framework to assess what this pool has to offer to women in terms of its priorities. This section attempts to scrutinise the government’s priorities for women by examining the Rs 31,177.96 crore, (a) from the lens of different sectors, i e, education, health, livelihood, etc; (b) from the human rights lens; and (c) priorities for women belonging to different disadvantaged sections, i e, from the lens of the most marginalised/discriminated women. It is important to point out that this analysis has been attempted with the figures corrected for mistakes pointed in the previous sections.

    For convenience in understanding priorities of allocations in terms of different sectors, the schemes in the gender budgeting statement (parts A and B) have been categorised into the following heads:

  • (a) Livelihood includes schemes targeted to income-generating activities, formation of small-scale enterprises and those aimed at imparting technical education.
  • (b) Education includes schemes directly promoting education and scholarships assisting in attainment of education.
  • (c) Health includes health related schemes.
  • (d) Food Security and Nutrition includes schemes related to meeting nutritional needs and those aimed at assured food supplies.
  • (e) Housing includes schemes meeting shelter needs of women.
  • (f) Protection includes schemes for women in difficult circumstances which aim at protection of women, such as short stay homes, schemes targeted at differentlyabled women, etc.
  • (g) Awareness Generation and Others includes schemes targeted at generating awareness amongst women in areas such as youth activities, women empowerment, etc.
  • The picture that emerges for 2006-07 and 2007-08 is as shown in Figure 1.

    Table 2 presents the sectoral priorities in rupees crores and in percentage.

    The gender budget did not undergo significant changes in terms of allocations to various schemes. Taking into account major needs of women, one can see that it is education, health, food security and nutrition and livelihood that are prioritised in the allocations for women. With these sectors absorbing the major chunk, allocations for sectors such as women’s protection, housing, and awareness are largely neglected. A closer look at these priorities follows. Women’s education: The major chunk of allocations for women’s education can be accorded to allocations in Sarva Shiksha

    Table 2: Scrutinising Gender Budgeting Statements from a Sectoral Lens
    Sectors 2006-07 RE Percentage 2007-08 BE Percentage
    Women’s education 7513.7 38 8439.99 31
    Women’s health 3593.325 18 6483.03 24
    Women’s food security and nutrition 4321.77 22 5906.4 22
    Women’s livelihood 2444.35 12 3582.87 13
    Women’s housing 1498.39 8 2067.55 8
    Women’s protection 195.473 1 306.733 1
    Women’s awareness generation and others 153.41 Total 19720.418 1 100 177.43 26964.003 1 100

    Note: Totals do not match with totals in the gender budgeting statements because these have been corrected for anomalies identified in the previous section.

    Source: Compiled from the Gender Budgeting Statement, Union Budget, various years.

    Economic and Political Weekly April 21, 2007

    Figure 2: Scrutinising Gender Budgeting Statements from a Human Rights Lens own less than 1 per cent of the world’s

    2006-07 RE (in per cent)

    CPR Rights 1 per cent

    ESC Rights 99 per cent

    Abhiyan (SSA) which has in fact registered a decrease from Rs 5,060 crore (200607 RE) to Rs 4,908 crore (2007-08 BE). Although, education secures the largest chunk of funds targeted at women, one must not haste to the conclusion that these are sufficient. Considering the low literacy levels of women in the country as well as the alarming dropout rates (dropout rate in classes I-VIII stands at a whopping 73 per cent according to the 2001 Census), the prioritisation of education although warranted, is still insufficient to ensure better outcomes for the girl child. The allocations on education today are still not even up to the levels promised by the UPA government in the NCMP, which was 6 per cent of GDP. Women’s health: Some increase in the budgetary provisions for women’s health can be understood partially due to an increase in allocations in the National Disease Control Programmes. However, keeping in mind that India has one of the highest maternal deaths globally, the allocations still hover around a low figure as a proportion of GDP. According to very recently released results of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-III, institutional births accounted for only 40.7 per cent and mothers who received antenatal (at least three antenatal care visits for their last birth) and post-natal care (within two days of delivery from HV/ANM/doctor/ nurse/mother health personnel for their last birth) constituted 50.7 per cent and

    36.4 per cent respectively. The findings of NFHS-III supplement the plight of women in terms of healthcare facilities and underline the meagre provisions for the same. Women’s food security and nutrition: In terms of percentage, a meagre increase in allocation has been seen for women’s food security and nutrition. Women’s nutritional needs, especially specific periods such as

    2007-08 BE

    CPR Rights 1 per cent

    ESC Rights 99 per cent

    pregnancy and lactation carry a special importance, where specifically the government’s core programme, the ICDS accounts for the major sum. In addition, the mid-day meal scheme roughly accounts for almost an equal chunk in the total budgetary provision. No concrete steps have been taken in the area of food security and public distribution system, taking into account the number of women living in poverty. Women’s livelihood: Budgetary provisions for promoting the creation of small-scale enterprises, and other schemes for the upliftment of overall economic development of SCs and STs shows a slight increase from 12 per cent in 2006-07 RE to 13 per cent in 2007-08 BE. Promotion of such schemes significantly affect the economic empowerment of women, for unless and until women become financially independent, their decision-making power cannot improve significantly. By and large, the allocations can be accounted by Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY) and Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojna (SGRY) schemes of the department of rural development. Where it comes to 100 per cent allocation for women’s benefits, support to training and employment programmes such as Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, Swayamsidha and Swadhar receive the major sum. In this budget, the National Rural Employment Generation Programme and Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojna have been included in the gender sensitive schemes (Part B), unlike last year. Women’s housing: Access to and ownership of housing and shelter has been another aspect where gender based discrimination is seen in a big way. According to the data collated by the Centre for Housing Rights and Eviction, an international housing rights NGO, women perform two-thirds of the world’s total working hours and yet property. Statistics for India, do not show a different picture either – 70 per cent of the female workforce is still engaged in agriculture, and yet only 10 per cent of female farmers are landowners.4 Little needs to be said after the presentation of these startling facts.

    The outlay for women’s housing represents only 8 per cent of the total allocations in the gender budgeting statement. Women in difficult circumstances: Protection of women is one area which has been largely neglected. The staggering figures of crimes against women time and again point to an extremely inadequate level of budgetary allocations for women’s protection shown in the table. Protection holds special importance when talking about women who are in difficult circumstances. In this context, that the government still does not see the need for allocating funds to implement the new Domestic Violence Act, is a deep cause for concern. Women’s awareness generation and others: Such schemes target overall development, and are placed lowest in the order. The meagre allocation towards generation of awareness for women in various areas raises yet another concern.

    Through the Human Rights Lens

    The human rights discourse and framework has made a significant contribution to the women’s movement and vice versa. The women’s movement has often used the human rights framework, and its principles of universality, inalienability and non-discrimination to anchor its struggles, which otherwise often are diluted by arguments of cultural relativism. The women’s movement has always argued that whether it is Civil and Political Rights or Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, these are always experienced by women as indivisible and interrelated. Nonetheless, it is important to look at the breakup of the total pool in terms of Civil and Political Rights (CPR) and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) to ensure that neither is neglected and both are as important for women. Figure 2 reveals the priorities of the allocations targeted at women in terms of ESCR and CPR.

    One can see that 99 per cent of allocations for women have gone to economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights have always got a minuscule chunk of 1 per cent the budget. A possible explanation for such a predominant focus

    Economic and Political Weekly April 21, 2007

    Figure 3: Gender Budgeting Statements from the Lens of the Most Marginalised Women

    2006-07 RE

    Most Marginalised Women 8 per cent

    Other Women 92 per cent

    on ESCR could be attributed to the Indian Constitution that guarantees CPR as part of the Fundamental Rights as well as the principle of non-discrimination, whereas ESC rights have been left in the domain of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution for their progressive realisation. Further the acute levels of poverty in India and within this, the growing phenomenon of feminisation of poverty warrants a focus on ESC rights. The 2001 Census figures reveal that two-thirds of people living below poverty line are women. Thus protecting ESC rights of women becomes more important.

    Nonetheless, protecting CPR for women is as critical. The blindness of our policymakers to perceive women’s CPR as important could be explained to the publicprivate divide of the mainstream human rights discourse, which the women’s movement has always criticised for its patriarchal bias. (The term public-private divide is best explained by the old saying, “a man’s house is his castle” implying that the state should not interfere in the private sphere (i e, inside the household) of a man and it is the public sphere which is the primary mandate of the human rights.) Take the issue of violence in women’s lives. Statistics compiled by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) reveal the magnitude of domestic violence in India – a staggering 40 per cent of women in India in monogamous marriages – faces domestic violence with about 65 per cent of them reporting psychological abuse as well. Add to this the violence that women experience from outside the family, the centrality of violence in women’s lives becomes evident. This is

    2007-08 BE

    Most Marginalised Women 7 per cent

    Other Women 93 per cent

    true for women in most countries, whether CPR are guaranteed to them or not. In fact, in India, total crimes against women registered under the Indian Penal Code has actually increased from 3.5 per cent in 1998 to 9.3 per cent in 2004 as presented by the deputy advisor, Planning Commission based on the findings of an earlier study. Furthermore, there is little doubt that such crime figures are always an underestimation. Therefore, the government must increase allocations for realisation of CPR. And once again, this is another strong case for the government to allocate resources for the effective implementation of the new Domestic Violence Act.

    Through the Lens of Discrimination

    While in our analysis, we focus on the differences between men and women, one must also always bear in mind the differences amongst different sections of women. It is important to acknowledge that women are not a homogeneous group either. One needs to look at women in a framework on intersectionality which emphasises that the various grids of power must be identified and acknowledged, whether it is class, caste, race, disability, rural-urban divide, etc, and it is how a woman is placed at the intersection of these various grids that determines her relative position of power or marginalisation. Women, who face multiple forms of discrimination, being the most vulnerable of the lot, do require special efforts targeted at them.

    One of the limitations of the present structure in which our gender budgeting statements are presented is that it gives the impression that women are a homogeneous group, whereas, there is enough evidence to show that gender-based discrimination gets compounded when it interfaces with discrimination on the basis of caste, class, disability, HIV status, rural-urban divide, etc. For instance, even in 2001, about twothirds of adivasi women and about 60 per cent of dalit women were illiterate. Similarly, a comparison of the under-five mortality rates (per 1,000 live births), in the year 1998, brings out the significantly higher levels of mortality among dalit and adivasi children. Similarly, Muslim women in India also show significantly higher levels of deprivation.

    Adopting an intersectional framework becomes very critical as it not only transforms our understanding of an issue and our strategies for dealing with them, but also changes our methodologies for gathering information and data on situations of oppression and subordination of women.

    Figure 3 shows how much of the total gender budgeting pool is targetedat women who are most marginalised and discriminated (including dalit women, tribal women, destitute women, women who are differently-abled, women rescued from trafficking, women in short stay homes, etc) and how much of it goes to a generic category of “other women”. Note that these figures do not capture the total allocations for most marginalised women, but only those that are targeted at them. This is an important analysis, since even within women, the government must focus sufficiently on the needs of those women who are at the bottom of the ladder.

    The figure shows that about 8 per cent (for 2006-07) of the total gender budgeting pool went to women who are most marginalised and the rest was spent on women as a generic category. For 200708, this percentage has gone down marginally to 7 per cent. As one argues that gender-neutral allocations are not good enough and the government needs to step up its allocations for women-specific schemes, likewise, allocations assuming women are a homogeneous lot is also not good enough and the government needs to step up its allocations for women who are doubly discriminated and most marginalised

    Conclusion

    Thus, the only significant measure taken for women in Budget 2007-08 is the inclusion of a few more ministries/departments

    Economic and Political Weekly April 21, 2007 in the gender budgeting exercise of the government, and a consequent increase in the size of the gender budget. With regard to most sectors, Budget 2007-08 maintains the status quo for women in India. If one factors in the poor status on women in India as reflected in any number of indicators, Budget 2007-08 presents a disappointing picture. Considering that 30 per cent allocations of all ministries was promised to us in the Women’s Component Plan that was adopted way back in the Ninth Five-Year Plan, the budget figures once again reflect how much more needs to be done in prioritising women in all developmental programmes and schemes. Moreover, with revised estimates almost consistently lower than budget estimates for most of the schemes, one doubts if even the funds are being made available for women, ever reaches them.

    Another point that deserves specific mention is the significant leap in the allocations for ministry of minority affairs, from a poor Rs 2 crore (2006-07 BE) to Rs 143.52 crore (2006-07 RE) to Rs 512.83 crore (2007-08 BE). Disappointingly though, there is not even a single scheme/ allocation targeted at minority women. The gender blindness of the Sachar Committee report seems to have also reflected in the allocations for this ministry.

    It is also worth pointing out that gender budget statement being presented by the government, important though it is as an exercise, is just a starting point for gender budgeting. Gender budgeting is not just about looking at specific schemes for women or identifying and listing allocations for women. It is important to take the understanding beyond that since gender budgeting cannot be seen in isolation from the overall political economy scenario. How overall public policies impact on social sectors, agriculture, employment generation and poverty alleviation is far more critical from the point of view of women and thus any assessment of the impact of budgets on women has to be positioned in this context.

    For instance, the high rate of inflation witnessed recently would have harsh implications for women. The lack of concerted efforts to strengthen the public distribution system (PDS) in the context of a growing agrarian crisis as well as the declining per capita availability of foodgrain, does affect women. The sharp increase in open unemployment rates in rural and urban areas as shown in National Sample Survey (NSS) data is also an important indicator of the adversities confronting women. Therefore, in the proposals made in the latest budget, we need to look at the policy interventions in several social as well as economic sectors which directly affect the well-being of women in India.

    lff

    Email: yamini.mishra@gmail.com

    Notes

    [Authors work with the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability. Authors are particularly thankful to Subrat Das for valuable inputs.]

    1 ‘Gender Budgeting Statement: Misleading and

    Patriarchal Assumptions’, Economic and

    Political Weekly, July 29, 2006. 2 Chapter 4, Women, Children and Development,

    Mid-Term Appraisal of Tenth Five-Year Plan. 3 Chapter 4, Women, Children and Development,

    Mid-Term Appraisal of Tenth Five-Year Plan. 4 Times of India, March 8, 2007.

    Economic and Political Weekly April 21, 2007

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