Women need more funds for safety in Budget: Experts
Posted on: 05:39 AM IST Feb 28, 2013
New Delhi: A massive increase in spending on women's security and empowerment is desperately needed in India's national Budget, women's rights groups said on Wednesday, the eve of the country's most important economic announcement of the year.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram unveils what is expected to be India's most austere budget in years on Thursday, with cuts in public spending aimed at reining in a widening fiscal deficit and averting a sovereign credit downgrade.Women's rights groups say the recent gangrape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi, which prompted public protests and highlighted the poor treatment of girls and women in the largely patriarchal country, shows that women need to be prioritised in the 2013/14 Budget."We totally understand that there is a fiscal deficit and there is a dire need to cut spending and balance the budget, we respect that," said Harbeen Arora, chairwoman of the ladies league of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)."At the same time, the whole of India knows that there is a pressing need today more than ever to look at women's issues in a holistic, multi-pronged way. There has to be at least a 10-fold increase in funds for women."A poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2012 found that India was rated the worst G20 country in which to be a woman.From access to healthcare and education to land and property rights, from threats of physical and sexual violence to harmful customary practices such as female foeticide and 'honour killings', Indian women face a plethora of challenges.India introduced gender budgeting in 2005/6 to reflect the amount of funds spent on social programmes for women and girls. Last year, the government spent around 5.96 per cent of its total budget on women's issues, up from 2.8 per cent in 2005/6.But many women's rights experts say the allocations to these schemes have been piecemeal, amounting to "token gestures"."This kind of small, patchy allocations will not make a difference. Measures to improve the lives of women and girls need to be carefully thought out," says Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, a Delhi-based think-tank.SECURITY, EMPOWERMENTRights experts said the issue of the safety and security of girls and women was by far the biggest priority.There should, for example, be more funds to increase policing on the streets, as well as more female police officers, they said.Investment is also needed to help implement laws such as the domestic violence law, as well as more money for rehabilitation and counselling for victims of physical and sexual crimes such as acid attacks, trafficking and rape."The issue of safety is the starting point for everything. If you give safety and security to women, women will help themselves through using other means," said ASSOCHAM's Arora."But if they cannot walk out of the home and be safe, women cannot educate themselves, they cannot get jobs for themselves, which in turn will have a negative effect on the economic growth of the country."Rights groups called for a bigger budgetary allocation for schools, hostels and scholarships for girls, fast-track courts for crimes against women, improved health services for women. They also called for tax breaks for working women.Thursday's budget is expected to be the last one drawn up by the Congress-led coalition government ahead of general elections due before May 2014, but women's groups said Chidambaram was unlikely to try to woo the female electorate."The sad reality of our country is that politicians take the women's vote for granted," said Kumari. "They don't think the women's vote independently matters, so they don't pay attention to it. The finance minister did not even meet any women's groups in the run-up to the budget, despite repeated requests from various groups."####Reactions from Twitter:script src=”//storify.com/ibnlive/twitter-reacts-to-budget.js?header=false&border=false”>[View the story ”Twitter reacts to Budget” on Storify]Twitter reacts to BudgetStorified by IBNLive· Thu, Feb 28 2013 03:52:29A figure I found quite jarring was PC’s claim that 11 lakh got direct cash transfers thru Aadhar. Our ground reports showed otherwise.Kajal IyerThe budget has provided for ALL. He has increased the outlays. And provided for as well! We need to now demand its delivery and governanceKiran BediReactions on #Budget2013 ?? The extra surcharge on income of individuals earning above 1 cr a year is simply ridiculous.Minissha LambaWonderful. We cant stop rapes, crimes against women. But we want to open a bank for women. As if women cant use normal banks! #Budget2013Pritish NandyElection budgets are the ’sweet nothings’ of politics.FMs make promises they have no intention of keeping.So it is this year #Budget2013Derek O’BrienPM on Current Account Deficit: We must reduce our dependence on imports of oil, of coal, of gold, of petroleum products. #Budget2013Dr Manmohan SinghWell, #Budget2013 offers neither Hope nor Horror. Its just another day in the life of the common Indian. Maybe that is as it should be.Pritish NandyYes,a dream come true! MT:@sudsmobile: Ajay Maken thumps bench loudly when FM announces Natl Instit of Sports Coaching Patiala. #Budget2013Ajay MakenToday we remember Nani Palkhivala, who said: in India there is only one transfer of wealth – from the honest to the dishonest. #Budget2013Salil TripathiTechnology incubators will be taken under CSR. Good for startups in academic institutions. #BUDGET2013Madhavan NarayananIt’s clear. P. Chidambaram is a Times of India reader. #Nirbhaya fundSruthijithDear FM, Heres why we women are not impressed with #Budget2013 http://bit.ly/YIgWKZFirstpost"Reformist and Realistic" – Prime Minister’s statement on Railway Budget 2013-14 : http://pmindia.gov.in/press-details.php?nodeid=1573Dr Manmohan Singh