Budget for women, children shrinks

Anganwadi workers say they are yet to get basic infrastructure
Last Updated 01 February 2022, 20:07 IST

The Gender Budget Component of the Union Budget has further shrunk with its share in the government expenditure declining from 4.4% to 4.32% for the financial year 2023.

Overall, the allocation under the Gender Budget in 2022-23 rose 11% in comparison to its allocation in 2021-22; from ₹1,53,326 crores in 2021-22 it went up to ₹1,71,006 crores this year. The allocation was distributed between 35 ministries and government departments, as well as five Union Territories. Of this, the allocation for women-specific programmes was ₹26,772.89 crores, which went up 5.9% from ₹25,260.95 crores in 2021-22. The lion’s share under this went to the rural housing scheme Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana which had an allocation of ₹19,500 crores, an increase of ₹500 crores from ₹20,000 crores in 2021-22.

And yet, the Gender Budget Component accounted for only 4.32% of the entire Union Budget. This is a marginal fall from 2021-22 when the Gender Budget Component constituted 4.4% of the total Union Budget.

The allocation for the women and child development ministry went up from ₹24,435 crores in 2021-22 to ₹25,172.28 crores in 2022-23, marking an increase of 3%. Revised estimates for 2021-22 was ₹23,200 crores.

The WCD ministry’s allocation saw a revamp after the government redistributed the schemes into three parts. In her speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that this was done to provide integrated benefits to women and children. “Saksham Anganwadis are a new generation anganwadis that have better infrastructure and audio-visual aids, powered by clean energy and providing an improved environment for early child development. Two lakh anganwadis will be upgraded under the scheme,” Sitharaman said.

However, the Sambal component of Mission Shakti under which combined schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, One Stop Centres, Women’s Helpline, saw a decline of 4.2%. Mission Poshan 2.0, which clubbed all the nutritional schemes of the government including Umbrella ICDS and Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, and the Scheme for Adolescent Girls, saw an increase of ₹158 crores; it went from ₹20,105 crores to ₹20,263.07 crores.

Mission Vatsalya, which has all the Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services schemes under it, saw an increase in allocation of ₹572 crores; from ₹900 crores in 2021-22 to ₹1472.17 crores in 2022-23.

The Nirbhaya Fund was allocated ₹500 crores this year as well. The allocation for the Food and Nutrition Board fell from ₹77.80 crore to ₹73.10 crore this year. And, the allocation for the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) fell from ₹60 crores last year to ₹56.8 crores this year

Sakshi Rai of the Centre for Economic and Social Rights said that the clubbing of major schemes by the WCD ministry is problematic. “It does not inspire transparency over utilisation figures of each of the components of those schemes,” Rai said.

She added that there are noticeable inconsistencies in the gender budget statements. “The scheme on Safety of Women on Public Road Transport has been reported in both part A and part B,” Rai said. The scheme on women safety on public road transport saw a decline from ₹100 crores in 2021-22 to ₹20 crores in 2022-23.

Despite the rise of unemployment as a result of the pandemic which has disproportionately hit women, the allocations for MGNREGS have declined. “The tax aspect of gender budget analysis will hit marginalised women. Despite rising billionaires, the finance minister has reduced the corporate income tax. This means a greater reliance on GST, which hurts women more,” said Rai.

A R Sindhu, general secretary of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, said that while, in her speech, the finance minister announced that the government will upgrade two lakh anganwadis with better infrastructure and audio-visual aids, anganwadi centres are yet to get basic infrastructure.

“We the anganwadi workers and helpers of the country who run the anganwadi centres do not have basic infrastructure like drinking water and toilets, despite years of demand by the federation. How will the government make better infrastructure for two lakh anganwadi centres with no financial allocation,” said Sindhu.

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(Published 01 February 2022, 15:54 IST)

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