The Budget allocated for the Ministry of Women and Child Development shrank to 0.7% of the budget announced on Monday, according to leading economists.
The Ministry received ₹24,430 crore for fiscal 2022, which was 0.7% of the Budget. In last year’s announcement, it received ₹30,007 crore which was 0.98% of the Budget, analyses Ritu Dewan, vice-president, Indian Society for Labour Economics and co-convenor of Feminist Policy Collective. This figure went down in the revised estimate for the current fiscal, which at ₹23,165 crore was 0.61% of the Budget.
Several schemes under the Ministry have been re-grouped and renamed, such as Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0 for nutrition programmes, Mission SHAKTI for schemes on women empowerment and Mission Vatsalya for schemes on protection of children. “But what is worrying is that there are no adequate increments in allocations for the schemes,” says Sona Mitra, Principal Economist, IWWAGE ( Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy).
“Anganwadi services have been clubbed with other schemes under Saksham yet the Saksham Budget in 2021-22 of ₹20,105 is less than the anganwadi budget in 2020-21 of ₹20,532. Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana has now been clubbed with other schemes under Samarthya yet the allocation in 2021-22 is similar to the allocation for PMMVY alone in 2020-21,” says Professor Reetika Khera, a social scientist.
“Women’s safety and prevention of violence has not seen any major announcements though the pandemic resulted in a surge in cases of violence against women,” says Sona Mitra.
On nutrition, the Finance Minister said, “To strengthen nutritional content, delivery and outcome we will merge the supplementary nutrition programme and the Poshan Abhiyaan and launch Mission POSHAN 2.0. We shall adopt an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes in 112 aspirational dsitricts.” But the allocation for Poshan Abhiyan was slashed by 27% which went from ₹3,700 crore nnounced last year to ₹2,700 crore this time.
The word women was used in the FM’s speech only seven times about which Ms. Dewan says, “The Budget shows how there is minimal financial articulation about the concerns of women, SC, ST, disabled that it is reinforcing and strengthening their financial marginalisation.”