Maharashtra’s Gender Budget For FY 2020-21 Unfavourable Toward Women Empowerment Finds Study

Mantralya Mumbai
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Pune, December 12, 2020: A study was undertaken by UNICEF, Maharashtra has revealed that Maharashtra’s Gender Budget for FY 2020-21 is unfavourable toward women empowerment and development and there has been no advocacy toward gender equality. The findings were presented by Anuradha Nair Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF, Maharashtra at the second-day online National Conference on Women@Work organized by Pune International Centre (PIC) along with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE), Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy (MSEPP) and India Development Foundation (IDF) today.

The day-two session was also presented by Soma Wadhwa Research Fellow, IDF and the first session was chaired by Vibhuti Patel Trustee, Women’s Research & Action Trust along with Subhalakshmi Nandi, Senior Program Officer (Gender Equality), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sejal Dand Founder and Executive Director, ANANDI- Area Networking and Development Initiatives and Suchita Krishnaprasad Former Faculty and HoD, Economics, Elphinstone College who took part in the discussions and expressed their views on the subject.

According to Anuradha Nair’s ‘A Gender Budget analysis of Maharashtra’, the Gender Budget for FY 2020-21 is about 7,300 Cr, which is about 2% of state’s total budget and departments with highest allocations are from tribal, development, social justice, rural development, housing and public health.

The findings say that there have been no interventions for physical health disorders prevalent among women and no allocations for counselling centres for women’s mental health issues while health insurance for sex reassignment surgeries for transgender persons is not allotted.

In higher education, no measure is undertaken to prevent dropouts, while the financial assistance for higher education is only 1% of the entire education budget.

“The investment in agriculture and allied occupation is only 29 crores and even though the state policy highlights the plight of farm widows and abandoned women who are dependent on agriculture, it is being ignored. Also, special skills training and employment opportunities for disabled, transgender, survivors of flesh trade and unemployment allowance for those in the unorganized sector is not looked into,” said Anuradha.

“There’s a need for a ‘Gender Action Plan’ as women account for 48% of Maharashtra’s population. The reproductive, productive and community roles borne by women has not been addressed by the state. There’s no investment for women’s unpaid care work and to encourage their participation in the economy,” she added.

Soma Wadhwa of the IDF who manages the DISHA programme that aims to support underprivileged women in India learn marketable skills says, “For women empowerment, the challenge is to work toward overcoming internal barriers like personality and attitude drawbacks, lack of confidence and education deficiencies and external barriers like gender bias and stereotyping and absence of infrastructural, counselling, socio-political and economic support. We have to establish a continuum of services connecting education to skills, jobs, entrepreneurship, markets and growth.”

The second session was chaired by Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Research Director, India Development Foundation, Dean, Indian School of Public Policy along with Dr Vijay Kelkar, Vice President, PIC and panellists including Chetna Gala Sinha Founder, Mann Deshi Bank, Pradeep Apte Professor Emeritus, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Sangeeta Shroff Director, Agro-economic Research Centre for Maharashtra, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics and Jayanti Kajale Dean, Academic Outreach Activities, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics.

Gangopadhyay said, “There are several constraints and barriers we have to address and study the entire system to find the loopholes. Simply creating jobs for women is not the solution; we have to create jobs that can be done. Women should be enabled to ask what they want and need and just like a boy decides what he wants to do in life, a girl too should be given that privilege.”

Dr Vijay Kelkar said, “Women should be included in policy and decision making. Every political party should have 50% of women as candidates.”