Budget 2016 expectations: Over the past year many of the government’s policies and initiatives have been focused on digitization, technology, entrepreneurship, education, skills-development, sanitation and so on. The government has been riding high on drivers that are imperative to the economic and social growth of the country. We are yet to see deliverables on many fronts, but there is no denying that these steps are positive. In 2016 we expect the government to continue this growth orientation.
With more and more women joining the workforce and increasing their contribution to India’s economic status, we would like to propose ‘gender mainstreaming’ for Budget 2016. It is time we integrate the gender perspective to all relevant policies and initiatives, to promote equality between women and men. For example, the government had recently announced a Rs 10,000 crore fund for entrepreneurs during the release of the action plan for the Startup India campaign. Can the government consider allocating 20% of this fund only for women entrepreneurs? This would definitely help in encouraging and growing the number of women entrepreneurs in our country.
The ‘100 Smart City’ is another much talked about initiative and there are many expectations of increased funds for this project. We would like to see a specific focus on women-friendly facilities and infrastructure in the detailed roadmap of this project. There should also be budget allocations and incentives for creating women-safety mechanisms and devices, to ensure safety of our women in these smart cities at all times.
The Digital India initiative needs to have specific plans that will aim to digitally empower more women and girls right from the grass root levels. Year after year our budgets have always included women empowerment and support for the girl child. Our union budget has to get more aggressive on women–specific policies and measures that are lucrative and impactful in encouraging the full-participation of women in all spheres of life.
Written by Geetha Kannan, Managing Director, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) India