Gender Budgeting- A tool for women empowerment

Women Empowerment refers to increasing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strength of the women, to ensure equal-right to women. It helps women to control and benefit from resources, assets, income and their own time, as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and wellbeing. Many of the barriers to women’s empowerment and equity lie ingrained in cultural norms. Many women feel these pressures, while others have become accustomed to being treated inferior to men. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.

Whereas Gender Budgeting is a powerful tool for achieving gender mainstreaming so as to ensure that benefits of development reach women as much as men.The rationale for gender budgeting arises from recognition of the fact that national budgets impact men and women differently through the pattern of resource allocation. Women, constitute 48% of India’s population, but they lag behind men on many social indicators like health, education, economic opportunities, etc. Hence, they warrant special attention due to their vulnerability and lack of access to resources. The way Government budgets allocate resources, has the potential to transform these gender inequalities. In view of this, Gender Budgeting, as a tool for achieving gender mainstreaming, has been propagated.

It is not an accounting exercise but an ongoing process of keeping a gender perspective in policy/ programme formulation, its implementation and review. It entails dissection of the Government budgets to establish its gender differential impacts and to ensure that gender commitments are translated in to budgetary commitments. It was adopted in India in 2005 by listing out schemes exclusively for women. States like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, Kerala, Assam, Bihar, etc have adopted gender budgeting.

Impact of Gender Budgeting

  • According to IMF study, Gender Budgeting at department/ministry brought more focus on issues of women’s inequality and empowerment and thereby led to more specific allocation on such schemes. For example- Ministry of agriculture, under NRLM has launched Mahila Kisan Shashtikaran Yojana to allocate 30% of its budget for women welfare following gender budgeting initiative. Similarly, Women entrepreneurship has been encouraged through various schemes such as stand up India, Mahila e – Haat etc.
  • Focus has been given on education, health, and safety of women. For ex. Beti bachao, beti padhao; free bicycles to girls, JSY etc., resulting into increase in enrolment of girl child at primary and secondary level, increase in SHGs providing economic voices to women’s etc.
  • It has brought change in outlook and behaviour of govt. in working towards gender centric welfare.

A gender sensitive budget helps in translating gender-specific commitments into budgetary commitments. Since women comprise approx 48% of the population of India, it becomes important for their voices to be heard. Gender based inequality will reduce provided this step is effectively implemented.

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