Every budget has policy and specific announcements that will impact on women’s lives. Here is why women should be watching Budget Day 2017 very closely.
It is a prevailing misconception that women are not interested in Indian economic matters and financial budgets. Though women are traditionally more inclined towards subjects like maintaining household income and expenditure when it comes to money, this has changed significantly.
In the early days of Indian independence, there weren’t much measures provided for women by the Indian government which could be talked about. It’s true that the government of India has not been responsive enough to include and implement various measures for the benefit of women but the times are slowly changing.
From 2005 onwards, gender budgeting has been part of India which ensures that women specific schemes and general schemes with 30% allocation to women are incorporated during budget allocation. Every year through the Union Budget, India is coming forward with welfare schemes enabling women to advance in various fields, even if the implementation is now always up to scratch. Budget Day 2017 has been brought forward by finance minister to the 1st of February breaking the long tradition of declaring the budget on the last working day of February.
Here are some of the schemes for women empowerment implemented over the years which very few women know about. The Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme for LPG distribution for women of BPL families. The maternity benefit schemes are helpful for pregnant mothers without which rural women may be skeptical to come forward to get admitted at hospitals for safe childbirth and health care. The ‘Modi Sarkar’ has always been vocal about women empowerment and has come up with several women centric schemes like Beti Badhao Beti Padhao and #SaveGirlChild campaigns. Maternal health initiatives and the concession for girls for higher education are some important areas where sustained focus can definitely speed up the development of the nation.
This doesn’t mean working women in the city are ignored. The concession in income tax slabs and the loans available for women entrepreneurs under Standup India scheme are useful to women in workforce. The special ladies coaches in trains and concessions for women in Indian railways are also meant towards better transportation and safety of the women. The NGOs working towards betterment of girls rescued from trafficking and empowering them by upgrading skills and providing employment, would benefit from the STEP schemes which helps them to implement their vision of helping women.
Many of us do not know our rights and what we are entitled to, until a lawyer explains it to us in the middle of a crisis, about the legal rights after divorce, or inheriting the ancestral property rights. As much as the government needs to bring up more ideas to better the progress of women in our nation, we also need to be aware of existing rights and laws available to all of us. This applies equally to being financially well-informed.
If you are married, does your spouse handle your investments? Or are you well informed enough to handle your tax investments? If you are single, do you wait to be ‘settled’ before looking closely into finances or plan for the future from the very beginning? Hence, along with the benefits for women, it is better to have an eagle view of other aspects of the financial budget and so as to be prepared for the worst as well – after all, life is unpredictable.
So let’s keep our eyes and ears open for the oncoming budget and be aware of our progress in India. Stay tuned for budget day 2017, so that we are well-informed; we need to be aware of the impact of the financial budget on our personal and professional lives. We need to know which policies needs to be appreciated and which areas of development we should raise our voice about so as to motivate our elected representatives to create a better vision for every Indian citizen, including women who form 50% of the population after all.
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Top image is a screenshot from DD telecast of budget 2016