Budget proposes Women's Development Department
: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac on Thursday announced the setting up of a separate Women's Development Department, fulfilling a long-standing demand of women's organisations in the State.
All women's welfare and awareness programmes and the functioning of the Women's Commission, Women's Development Corporation, implementation and monitoring of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act will come under the newly proposed Women's Development Department, Dr. Isaac said, while presenting this year's Budget in the Assembly.
The Women's Development Department will also coordinate and monitor women's welfare schemes in all other departments, he added.
Security issues of women at workplaces and while commuting, including provision of night shelter or hostel facilities, provision of public toilets and rest room facilities have been addressed by the Finance Minister in this year's Budget.
The Minister, in his speech, noted that public transport systems as well as many public places were often unsafe for women.
He announced that special facilities for night-time stay would be made for working women who commute long distances to workplaces and who might need a safe place to stay in case they are delayed in the evening.
For this, arrangement with working women's hostels through NGOs would be made. Helplines for women will be set up in all cities as part of this arrangement, for which Rs.5 crore has been set aside in the Budget.
A sum of Rs. 17.5 crore has been set aside for setting up women's hostels and working women's hostels. Public toilets for women will be constructed in 200 higher secondary schools, boat jetty, bus stands and public places and markets, for which the Minister has allocated Rs. 17.5 crore.
A sum of Rs.1 crore has been allocated for building night-time stay facilities for fisherwomen in harbours and major fishing centres.
A gender park, `Thantedam,' would be set up in Kozhikode.
The Finance Minister allocated Rs.10 crore for this facility, which will have buildings for women entrepreneurs in the service and cultural sectors, a women's studies centre, library , a cultural complex and guest house.
In order to generate gender awareness and gender sensitivity in the police force and to create women-friendly police stations, a sum of Rs. 4 crore has been allocated.
The budget has set aside Rs.1 crore for the welfare and rehabilitation of unwed mothers.
The financial assistance for them has been hiked to Rs. 400, which will be made available to all communities. The Finance Minister also announced the lowering of age limit for drawing pension for unmarried women from 50 years to 40 years. The pension amount for this category has also been hiked to Rs. 400.
The last State Budget saw the launch of Gender Budgeting in Kerala. Only 5.6 per cent of the allocation for schemes for women's welfare were utilised in the 2009-10 budget.
The utilisation could be hiked to 8.5 per cent in the 2010-2011 budget.
The allocation for special schemes for women in the 2011-2012 budget would come to around Rs. 770 crore — about 9.4 per cent of the total Plan outlay.