Gender inequality was always an inseparable part of India and a common problem around the world, also governments are trying hard to nullify it as much as they can.
India has seen a massive improvement in the sex ratio as there are 1020 females per 1000 males in 20201-22 according to the Economic Survey. But, the budget is somehow ignoring the fact that women empowerment needs financial support on the part of the government as well.
In 2005-06, the Indian government introduced a gender budget that is divided into two parts, part A and part B. Part A comprises various women-specific schemes with 100% allocation toward women-led development only. While in part B, various schemes are included where at least 30% of the allocation should be made toward women empowerment.
Falling percentage of the gender budget
It has been over 17 years since the gender budget has not increased the percentage in terms of total expenditure and GDP. The gender budget has always been less than 5% of the total expenditure in the budget, and less than 1% of the GDP of the country. It hasn't increased the limit since the launch of the gender budget.
When we talk about yearly allocation, conditions have worsened post-pandemic. On one hand, women participation is lowering due to covid health crisis. The government has reduced its total expenditure percentage after the pandemic on the other hand. In 2020, the gender budget stands at 4.72% of the total expenditure of the budget, it was reduced to 4.4% in 2021-2022 and 4.3% in 2022-23.
Importance of women in jobs
On a micro level, women's participation in work culture helps them be financially independent and become in-charge of their finance allocation. A financially independent woman will be able to stand against sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, which will ultimately reduce the domestic crime rate in India.
When talking about the importance of women's participation in the workforce, according to a McKinsey global report in 2016, India could add $700 billion to its GDP by improving its gender parity. This can only happen with a significant push by the government.
What women can expect from budget 2023?
As a woman, you can only expect the government to increase the percentage of total expenditure made toward women-led schemes. There are following things that the budget can do to gear up women empowerment in the country
- There are only 10 schemes in which 80% of gender budget roles are around, the budget can increase the number of schemes and allocate the proportion of women workforce appropriately.
- Requirement of increased participation in overall financial inclusion.
- Not only heavy investment toward women-led schemes but also a proper allocation is required among all the government programs.
- Reservation in startup participation is also required in the case of MSME sectors.
Being more women than men is not the definition of success in the field of women empowerment, it is also financial, law, and system support to give equal rights to women. A proper allocation of funds in all fields is the need of the hour to give equal opportunities to women, as various work fields are also led my male-centric culture.
Anushka Trivedi is a freelance financial content writer. She can be reached at anushkatrivedi.com