When the Economic Survey 2018 was released with a pink cover, it was meant to serve as a declaration that the policy makers are gender sensitized, no matter how jarring the gender colour stereotype. Did the Budget 2018, which soon followed the survey, live up to the expectation of more fund allocation to women-centric schemes? Let us have a look.
Allocation for Women Helpline scheme was Rs 28.8 crore which was more than double against the previous budget. One Stop Centre Scheme, popularly called Sakhi, which aims to provide assistance to women who have faced violence in public and private spaces, was allocated funds slightly more than the previous budget amounting to Rs 105.10 crore. Mahila Police Volunteer, a scheme to check crime against women, received an allocation of Rs 7 crore. The Nirbhaya Fund, the proceeds of which go towards ensuring women safety, was given an allocation of Rs 500 crore. Ujjawala scheme, which is meant to prevent,rescue and rehabilitate the victims of trafficking, witnessed no hike in allocation. It was allocated Rs 50 crore which was the same as in the previous budget.
A scheme to enable women entrepreneurship called STEP, which stands for Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women, saw a stark reduction in allocation from Rs 40 crore in the previous budget to Rs 5 crore in the present. To promote safe and convenient accommodation for working women, allocation to the tune Rs 60 crore, Rs 10 crore more than that in the previous budget, was made to a scheme working in that regard. But the National Creche Scheme, which enables working women to leave their children while they are at work saw a reduction in allocation from Rs 200 crore to Rs 128 crore.
With the target of empowering rural women by encouraging community participation amongst them, Mahila Shakti Kendra scheme received a massive allocation of Rs 267 crore, which was almost four times that of the previous budget. Swadhar Greh Scheme, which aims to support and rehabilitate women who are trapped under dire circumstances without money or family, saw a Rs 5 crore decrease in allocation to Rs 95 crores. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), which aims to help women by replacing the smoke-chullas with clean fuel-LPG, received an allocation of Rs 4,800 crore, for 3 crore additional LPG connections.
Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), which targets out-of-school girls between age of 11 to 14 years, saw a drop in allocation in the previous budget 2017. But this trend was broken and a hike of Rs 40 crores was granted for the scheme in budget 2018. Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana, received a considerable allocation of 16,000 crore in this years’ budget. This scheme which was introduced to provide last mile electrification, was pegged as a boon for rural women as it was expected to improve their quality of life. Nai Roshni, a scheme for inculcating a spirit of leadership amongst minority women received an allocation of Rs 15 crore.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, government’s flagship scheme to promote equal value of girl child and boost her education, received an allocation of Rs 280 crore, against 200 crore in the previous budget.
To encourage women to take up jobs in the formal sector, the last budget reduced the amount of contribution that women employees, enrolled in the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, were to make from 12% earlier to 8% for the first three years. Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, which extends microfinance to the poorest of women, generally without assets, the allocation to it was reduced from Rs 1 crore to Rs 1 lakh.
Health and Maternity Benefit
National Nutrition Mission, to promote well-being of women, received an allocation of Rs 3,000 crores in this years budget. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, the maternity benefit programme saw a Rs 300 crore reduction in allocation at Rs 2,400 crore.