The Gender Budget has further shrunk this year with its share in the expenditure declining from 4.4% to 4.3% for financial year 2023.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget speech had nothing new to offer for women. The word women appeared only six times in her speech.
The Gender Budget has decreased from 0.71% of the GDP of the revised estimates for 2021-22 to 0.66% in the estimates of 2022-2023, according to an analysis of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).
In absolute terms though the Gender Budget, which includes schemes for women across different Ministries, has seen an increase of 11.5% — rising from ₹1,53,326.28 crore this fiscal to ₹1,71,006.47 crore for the next fiscal.
At ₹92,736.5 crore, the children’s budget has also dropped from 2.46% of the expenditure this fiscal to 2.35% in the next fiscal. According to an analysis by NGO HAQ-Centre for Child Rights, the proportion of children’s allocation is the lowest in the last 11 years.
The Budget for the Ministry of Women and Child Development as a portion of the expenditure has also declined from 0.57% to 0.51%. The Ministry received ₹20,263.07 crore.
The FM said nearly two lakh anganwadis will be upgraded and will be “new generation anganwadis that have better infrastructure and audio-visual aids, powered by clean energy and providing improved environment for early child development.” However, the Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 scheme, under which these works will be carried out, have received a negligible hike of 0.7%. No enhanced allocation was announced for nutrition support or to address the demands of frontline workers for minimum wages instead of an honorarium.
The schemes under the Ministry that focus on safety of women such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, One Stop Centres, Nari Adalat, Mahila Police Volunteer and Women’s Helpline saw a decline in allocation from ₹587 crore to ₹562 crore. Mission Vatsalaya of the Ministry, which includes child welfare and child protection services, saw a 63.5% hike to ₹900 crore.
“Women are a large number of the beneficiaries in the schemes which include MGNREGS, National Social Assistance Programme and Schemes for Welfare of SC, ST, Minorities and other vulnerable sections. The combined expenditure on these schemes has reduced from 3.2% of the revised expenditure of 2021-22 to 2.5% in budget allocation in 2022-2023. This shows that the government’s vision for ‘Amrit Kaal’ has no place for women,” said AIDWA.