We live in a country where the major section of society worships goddesses for the betterment of wealth and prosperity. But the irony is, in reality, we ignore the gravity and worth of the women around us. Women constitute around half of the population and make an enormous contribution to the economy. Yet they lack behind all the socio-economic indicators. This is not the scenario observed only in India, Gender inequality is a huge problem across the world. This is why?
Throughout the ages, women are considered subordinate to men, with their socially constructed roles and responsibilities, they experience significant discrimination socially, economically, politically compared to men. For example, Rural women who are highly engaged in agricultural activities are often unpaid and are significantly responsible for gathering firewood, cooking, sustenance of the family, rearing children, taking care of the elderly, and other household chores. Women’s unpaid work at home, are often not recognized in macro policies. Their voices are not heard by the authorities when planning social programs & policies for their own population.
Though there are many government schemes and policies for the welfare of women, only limited of them have a measurable impact on gender. Among them, budgeting is quite important. Budget is an affirmative action/powerful tool in the hands of the state which aims in reducing inequalities and improving the status of living in the development process. Whereas integrating gender dynamics and perspectives in fiscal policies is a significant factor for a better transformation of the civil and economic society.
What is Gender Budgeting?
Gender Budgeting/Gender-responsive budgeting is government planning, programming, and budgeting that contributes to the advancement of gender equality and the fulfillment of women’s rights. It is an initiative, to ensure that the budgeting process is carried out through a gender lens, and to transform the economic, social, literacy status of the women lagging behind, and towards achieving gender mainstreaming.
It is not an exclusive budget for women, rather it aims at allocating resources in the budget in a way that reduces gender disparities. It enables policymakers and leaders to foresee the extent of budget planning, allocation, and outreach to both sexes, as well as considering its variations besides creating subsequent policies to eliminate inequalities.
Interesting facts about Gender Budgeting:
This approach not only helps the government to strengthen the allocation of funds towards those in need but also reflecting on the plights of vulnerable groups. In addition to that, it is observed that there is a favorable link with applying a gender lens to budgets and economic performance.
- Many Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Korea have issued Gender budgeting statements(GBS) to ensure transparency and effective reporting. GBS was first introduced in India during 2005–2006, which comprises two aspects.
A: Women Specific schemes- 100% allocation is for women
B: Pro-Women schemes: At least 30% of the allocation is for women.
In India 16 out of 29 states adopted gender-specific budgeting in annual budgeting. Kerala introduced statements on gender budgeting, where the state budget of 2008–09 targeted an extra investment on infrastructure, to promote greater participation of women in economic and public life.
- In Mexico, Gender oriented fiscal efforts were undertaken both at the state and federal levels(primarily on health), which resulted in reducing the maternal mortality rise and made significant progress on addressing women’s health issues.
- Morocco has ascertained the needs of women and children in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, justice, employment, etc, and aimed to develop fiscal as well as other policies to ensure gender equality in proposed areas.
- Uganda and Rwanda counties, gender budgeting was extended to local governments to ensure that gender-oriented goals are identified and budgeting is allocated in major public programs like health and education.
- European countries like Austria, Belgium has put significant efforts on gender budgeting. In Austria, gender budgeting reforms like income tax were amended providing greater incentives to working women which highly increased female labor force participation and productivity. Belgium parliamentary implemented a law in 2007, that mandates integration of gender dimension to all federal policies including budgeting.
The ratio of the investments on gender budgeting varies across the countries and continents, but the rationale behind the motive is one and the same i.e Gender parity and empowerment.
Contributed By- Krishna Lalitha, Content Writer @ Mitti Ke Rang
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