What Can Women Expect From Budget 2024?

As a woman in the twenty-first century, I have many questions about what my country plans for me in Interim Budget 2024.

As the whispers of the upcoming national budget stir through the bazaars and the boardrooms alike, I find myself, like many Indian women, in a state of eager, yet cautious anticipation.

Tomorrow, on February 1, our Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will unveil the blueprint that promises to navigate our economy through the year. The Union Budget is a mirror for us that reflects how we are perceived by our lawmakers, and more significantly, it signifies the value accorded to our roles, rights, and progress in society.

As a woman in the twenty-first century, I have many questions about what my country plans for me. Will there be more schemes that empower women financially? Will there be stricter laws and better implementation to safeguard us against gender-based crimes? What about healthcare facilities specific to our needs?

While we wait for the budget announcement, let’s take a look at some of the expectations and possibilities that lie ahead for women in India.

Key Highlights:

  1. Anticipating comprehensive schemes for women’s financial empowerment and stability in Budget 2024.
  2. Expecting stringent legal reforms and enhanced safety measures to address crimes against women.
  3. Looking for increased representation of women in decision-making roles.
  4. Hope for targeted policies and funds dedicated to women’s healthcare and well-being.
  5. Need for further investment in educational initiatives, scholarships, and upskilling for girls and women.
  6. Urgency for measures promoting digital literacy among women, particularly in rural areas.
  7. Importance of robust social welfare programs that cater to maternity benefits, old-age pensions, childcare, and more.

Financial empowerment

One of the most significant concerns for women in India is financial independence and stability. The past few years have seen the introduction of various schemes and policies aimed at empowering women, such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, and MUDRA loans.

However, critics argue that these schemes are mere tokenism and inadequate in addressing the real issues faced by women. In Budget 2024, we hope to see a more comprehensive approach towards women’s financial empowerment.

This could include improved access to credit and resources for entrepreneurship, better implementation of equal pay laws, and incentives for companies promoting gender diversity in the workplace.

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Safety and legal reforms

In light of the concerns regarding crimes against women in India, as reflected by the alarming statistics from various sources, it is clear that safety and legal reforms are critical areas of focus.

The data indicates that in 2022, over 445,000 crimes against women were registered in the country, which equates to one crime every 51 minutes. With Delhi registering the highest rate at 144.4 crimes per million, this figure starkly surpasses the national average.

Another study reveals that 26% of approximately 10,000 surveyed women reported experiencing physical violence by their spouses. This highlights the urgency for comprehensive care strategies that address the multifaceted nature of domestic violence.

Given these statistics, expectations from Budget 2024 should indeed be centered around stringent legal reforms, enhanced safety measures, and more efficient support systems for women. The allocation of resources for the implementation of stricter laws and faster justice delivery systems not only deters crime but also provides much-needed support to the victims. Empowering women’s helplines, crisis centers, and legal aid services through adequate funding is paramount for offering immediate assistance.

Additionally, the anticipated improvements in training for police and judiciary to handle gender-based crimes with due seriousness and empathy are critical. These measures, alongside investments in public infrastructure to improve safety—such as well-lit streets, reliable public transportation, and effective surveillance mechanisms—are vital steps to combat the high rates of crimes against women in India and to enhance their safety in both private and public spaces.

Greater representation in decision-making

India prides itself on being one of the largest democracies in the world. However, when it comes to representation of women in decision-making roles, our country is lagging.

According to a report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India ranks 149th out of 193 countries in terms of women’s representation in the national legislature. The current Lok Sabha has only 14% female representation, which is a little better than the Rajya Sabha which stands at 11%.

We hope that Budget 2024 will allocate funds to encourage more women to participate in politics and provide support for their candidature. This would not only lead to better decision-making but also pave the way for a more equal society.

Healthcare and well-being

Women’s health is another area where targeted policies and funds could make a significant impact. Specific expectations from the budget include increased funding for reproductive healthcare services and awareness programs.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health, and there’s hope that this will translate into better access to mental health services for women, addressing issues such as postpartum depression and anxiety.

Nutrition programs targeting women and girls are equally crucial, especially in the light of reports about high rates of anemia and malnutrition among Indian women. Budget 2024 could enhance existing initiatives or introduce new schemes aimed at improving the nutritional status of women and young girls.

Tax exemptions for healthcare expenses, especially for single women and widows, is another expectation that could significantly ease financial burdens on families with limited resources.

Education and skill development

Education is a powerful tool for empowering women, and there is hope that the government will continue to invest in initiatives that improve access to quality education for girls. While schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have made strides in increasing enrollment numbers, retention and quality remain challenges.

Source: The Logical Indian

Budget 2024 could potentially introduce scholarships and incentive programs aimed specifically at girls pursuing higher education, especially in STEM fields where female representation is traditionally low. Moreover, upskilling and vocational training for women enable them to compete in the job market and contribute more effectively to the economy.

Digital literacy and accessibility

In line with the focus on education and skill development, it is essential for Budget 2024 to also include measures that promote digital literacy among women. As the world increasingly moves toward a digital economy, the ability to navigate the internet, use digital tools, and understand cyber security is no longer optional but critical. Special programs to provide digital training to women, especially in rural areas, could close the technology gap and open up new opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment.

Moreover, ensuring that digital resources are accessible to women with disabilities must be a priority, with investments in adaptive technologies and inclusive online content. The expansion of internet connectivity in remote areas would complement these efforts by ensuring that women everywhere have the opportunity to access global information and resources.

Social welfare programs

The government’s commitment to social welfare programs that benefit women, such as maternity benefits, old age pensions, and insurance schemes, is particularly important. The inclusion of single mothers, widows, and women with disabilities within these programs ensures that the safety net is wide enough to catch those who are most vulnerable.

Additionally, there’s an expectation for increased funds for childcare and elderly care services, providing relief to women who often shoulder the burden of caregiving responsibilities.

While the actual allocations and reforms will only be known once the budget is officially presented, it is clear that Indian women have specific expectations for Budget 2024. These include real steps towards financial empowerment, greater representation, safety and legal reforms, healthcare and wellbeing, education and skill development, and robust social welfare programs.

It is time for the government to acknowledge and address these concerns, making sure that women’s voices are heard and their needs are met. Let us hope that Budget 2024 brings about positive changes in the lives of Indian women.

What do you hope to see in the upcoming budget for women? Share your thoughts and expectations in the comments below.

Image source: Hindustan Times


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