‘More funds needed for women, child development’

Monday, February 28, 2011

NEW DELHI - Even as the allocation for the social sector has been increased 17 percent by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the budget proposals for 2011-12, little increase has been seen in the funds for women and child development, says a prominent social activist.

“The budget certainly does not reflect gender budgeting as there has not been any significant mention of allocation of resources for better implementation of laws and policies for women. In the absence of proper gender audit, all resources directed towards women will go unused and unaccounted for,” Centre for Social Research director Ranjana Kumari told IANS.

With an allocation of Rs.12,650 crore - Rs. 2,280 crore more than last year’s Rs. 10,370 crore, the allocation for women and child development in the budget is still insufficient, she said.

“There is need for more. We need to pay more attention mostly in four key fields - child nutrition, educating the girl child, reducing maternal mortality and ensuring social well-being of women by reducing violence and other deterring factors. However, none of these have been specifically focused on in the budget,” Ranjana Kumari said.

She added that the increase in remuneration for the anganwadi workers was also “too little, too late”. The remuneration for anganwadi workers has been increased from Rs.1,500 per month to Rs.3,000 per month, while that for the helpers has been increased from Rs.750 to Rs.1,500, applicable from April 1.

“That was a long pending demand, the inflation is so high this increase is very little, in fact it is too little, too late, she said.

“Looking at the importance of early childhood care and development, it seems that it is a very small investment and anganwadi workers and helpers will continue to remain underpaid and unrecognised,” she said.

She also said that the Rs.500 crore corpus for self help groups (SHG) will be of little benefit to women.

“Several research studies point out that the SHGs are benefiting the banks instead and not the below poverty line women. In the absence of proper auditing, the invested amount will not reach the poorest of the poor women,” she said.

Noting the “lack of gender senitisation” in the budget, she said the demands from the departments are low, and there is no focus on these issues.

She highlighted that except for the department of health and family welfare which has demanded a pool of Rs.4,300 crore for reproductive and child health (RCH), and Rs.3,500 crore for rural family welfare services, other departments have made ridiculously meagre demands.

“Only Rs.50 crore have been demanded for National Scheme for Incentive to the Girl Child for Secondary Education, and Rs.50 crore for Mahila Samakhya for Women,” she said.

“Similarly, only Rs.1.10 crore have been demanded for important schemes like Mahila Coir Yojna. For Financial Assistance to Women with Disabilities to look after their children after birth, only Rs.0.01 crore has been demanded,” Ranjana Kumari added.

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