Women ask for gender sensitive budget

February 19th, 2008 - 9:28 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) A delegation led by Women And Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury has met Finance Minister P. Chidambaram demanding the 2008-09 budget be gender sensitive with special focus on health and women empowerment. Incentives to insurance companies for special schemes for elderly women and widows, easy availability of loans for women, increased allocation of funds for family and health welfare, with special focus on maternal health, are some of the recommendations put forth before the finance minister who will table the budget before the Indian parliament Feb 29.

Tax concessions for women-headed households were included in the suggestions by Ranjana Kumari, president of Women Power Connect (WPC), an NGO that works for the benefit of women. The WPC was part of the delegation.

“We had been asking for a consultation for a long time and although we did meet the finance minister, it’s a little late for recommendations for the budget. Nevertheless, we are happy that we met him and put forth our views,” Kumari said about the meeting in the capital Monday.

“There were lots of recommendations on different aspects. But the bottom line is that gender budgeting is not enough. Allocation, which makes opportunities available to women, is just as important,” she told IANS.

Kumari said focused expenditure in health, education or anything else is the call of the day. If the allocated funds do not actually reach the beneficiaries, then entire purpose fails, she added.

One of the recommendations was that special industry zones should be created in urban centres on a priority basis to enable women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the economic growth.

Special loan schemes for women entrepreneurs by banks and financial institutions and loans at lesser interest rates for entrepreneurial women were some other suggestions.

“We keep talking about the boom in economic growth but without keeping the growth of women in mind, it will all fail,” Kumari said.

Women representing the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said there should be concessional loans for entrepreneurial women and that a business training college for women should be set up.

“We also suggested allocation for the implementation of various laws that protect the rights of women, such as for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act,” Kumari said.

“The Domestic Violence Act requires that the central and state governments share the allocation on a 20:80 percent basis. It is essential that the allocation made by the central government be no less than Rs.300 crore (three billion).”

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