Budget 2020: Can we expect women-friendly schemes?

Budget 2020: Can we expect women-friendly schemes?

Representative image. (Getty images)

By Parul Ohri

With a woman Finance Minister at the helm of the Union Budget 2020, expectations for women-friendly schemes are quite high. While newspapers and news channels will be packed with budget expectations from business leaders, financial experts, political parties and government officials, we bring you the voice of mothers and their hopes from the upcoming budget, that will impact their savings, education, healthcare, investments, and lifestyle.

In our discussions with the moms on the platform, there were 4 clear areas that emerged as priorities for budgetary attention. Not surprisingly, leading the list is women’s safety.

Women’s Safety: Given recent incidents of brutal violence against women and children, mothers are quite naturally putting safety high on their list of issues to be addressed by the Finance Minister. They are demanding greater financial allocation for improving public infrastructure including transportation and mobility, strengthening women help desks at police stations, effective patrolling and fast track judicial processes. There is also a demand to increase allocation for schemes that assist women who have faced violence. But along with allocation, mothers also feel it is necessary to implement strict procedures that can track usage of funds and evaluate the impact of executed schemes. This is an urgent requirement in both urban and rural areas.

The call for increased budget allocation also extended to policies for women’s safety in the workplace. 

Inflation: Mothers want to draw the attention of policymakers to what matters most to the common man – the affordability of food and other essentials. They are hoping for measures that keep costs stable, particularly in categories that affect the household expenditure the most - food items, fuel, essential goods, education, and healthcare. 

Support for mothers returning to work: The demand for increased women-centric policies that would help mothers to return to work after a child care break, resonated with many. This includes tax-free maternity allowance and maternity insurance by employers. For most new mothers, the biggest challenge in returning to work remains quality childcare, the lack of which results in a large percentage dropping out of the workforce altogether. Mothers have asked for mandatory corporate policies for parental leave that allow fathers to take paid child-care leave and childcare facilities or tax deduction for expenses incurred on daycare facilities.

Tax incentives for salaried women and entrepreneurs: Any increase in tax-exempt income and lowering of tax rates would be a welcome measure as that will mean more savings in hand for women in the workforce. There is also a call to make children’s education exempt from tax. For earning mothers, tax rebates and better investment options was an important concern. We also spoke with several mothers who had aspirations to start small businesses from their homes. For them, the main demand was simplifying start-up regulations, corporate tax structures and revising incentives to help maximize their survival and growth potential.

Undoubtedly, mothers are looking forward to impactful women-centric policies from this Union Budget. 

(Parul Ohri, Founding Member and Chief Editor, momspresso.com)

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