Skip to main content

Gender and Union budget 2022-23: Silence on concerns of social protection


By IMPRI Team
Research has shown that, globally, women had to disproportionately bear the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. In India, Female Labour Force Participation fell to a historic low of 21% in 2019, and gender disparity widened across employment, health, political participation, and education. Given the precarious condition of Indian women, it is imperative to analyze the Union Budget 2022-23 from a gendered lens and see how the central government intends to bridge this inequality.
Under this backdrop, the IMPRI Gender Impact Study Center, Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, hosted a panel discussion on Gender and Budget 2022-23.
The talk was chaired by Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, and Mr. Ravi Duggal, Independent Social, Public Health Researcher, and Activist. The Panelists for the event were Prof. N. Manimekalai, Ms. Seema Kulkarni, Dr. Sanghamitra Dhar, Ms. Jasodhara Dasgupta, and Ms. Renu Khanna.
Prof. Patel and Mr. Duggal commenced the discussion by introducing the panelists and giving a brief outline of the budget 2022-23. Mr. Duggal opined that the budget is capital-oriented, and there has been a shift from welfare programs to private sector programs. There has been a reduction in several welfare schemes such as MNREGA, food subsidies, rural livelihood, etc. The funds have been relocated to help the private sector.
Coming to the gendered aspect of the budget, he highlighted that the gender budget has remained flat for some years hovering around 4-5%. Additionally, on the income side, it appears that the Government is not concerned about tax revenue as the tax to GDP ratio remains at only 10%.
Moving on with the discussion, Dr. Sangamitra Dhar stated that the gender lens on the budget is still a work in progress. While speaking on the subject, she stressed majorly on capacity building of the Ministry and stakeholders to carry forward and implement the schemes to foster women’s empowerment. Coming to this year’s Budget, she believed that gender equity through this budget looks encouraging. Women will definitely benefit from all the policies surrounding digitization, privatization, better infrastructure, and mental health programs. According to her, the allocations in the budget are enough, but the capacity building at the state and center levels is not enough and needs to be worked upon.
Ms. Jasodhara Dasgupta brought to the discussion the nutrition and social security conditions of women in India and the budgetary allocation for the same. She introduced the topic by giving the statistics on Indian women’s health conditions as recorded in the NFHS-5 data. The data shows that anemia levels in women have gone up across all age groups, and the percentage of thin women has reduced only from 23% to 19%.
Despite such dire conditions, the allocation for essential schemes such as supplementary nutrition has been reduced from the last budget if we adjust for 5% annual inflation. Additionally, the allocation for Mid Day Meals in schools and subsidies for cooking fuel has been reduced.
Coming to social security, India’s human development rank stands at 131 out of 189 countries. Research has shown that India’s spending on social security is much less than the global average, and inequality has increased considerably over the last year. There persists a significant gender gap in social security in India. All the laws and policies for social protection are employment-based, and women lose out on this protection since FLFP is extremely low and 95% of women work in the informal sector.
She provided specific recommendations for engendering the budget, such as universalizing the PDS Scheme, bringing back ICDS, providing maternity protection, and pension and social security for transgender, widow, the elderly, etc.
Ms. Renu Khanna spoke about the Union Budget 2022-23 and Gender from a health perspective. She highlighted that the health budget has only been allocated 2.26% of the total budget even though health expenditure as a percentage of total expenditure was 2.46% in the year 2020-21. It is, however, equally important to note that in the Union Budget 2022-23, we should have seen major allocations to the Health sector given the problems faced by people in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.
India is currently facing shortfalls in human resources with regards to healthcare resources, infrastructure and health workforce. She further provided statistics to highlight the reduction of routine reproductive health services in India that clearly reflect the situation on the ground.
Delving deeper into the discussion, Ms. Renu stated that schemes like Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission and National Tele Mental Health will lead to a gender gap in digital inclusion or digital divide due to lack of access to the internet and devices like smartphones to all. She further spoke about PM- JAY and insurance schemes that have been introduced without taking into account the various demographic groups and, sexual and reproductive health of women.
Suggesting the issues we need to focus on concerning health, gender and budget, she emphasized on the necessity to increase expenditure on health and the need to strengthen and expand public health services, in particular, primary health.
Talking about agriculture and allied activities from a gender perspective and highlighting the issues faced by farmers and women in agriculture, Ms.Seema Kulkarni stated that the entire focus of the budget is towards privatization and the budget allocation for the agriculture sector doesn’t allow us to understand the allotment for its different components. She further highlighted the importance to recognize the engagement of women in agriculture and the need for policies that support and encourage gender diversification, especially women, in the agriculture sector.
As per the Census of India, only 26% of female cultivators have access to direct agricultural credit which is certainly a matter of serious concern. She further discussed the role of organizations like MAKAAM (Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch) in advocating women’s rights, and providing equal access to resources. It is evident that over the years, the proportion of women account holders has increased significantly even though women’s access to credit is abysmal.
Seema Kulkarni further mentioned the significance of recognition through registrations of women workers and the call for improvement and advancement of women’s rights over land, nature, and forests.
Further, Prof. N. Manimekalai talks about low Female Labour Force Participation (FLFP). She highlights that women’s participation in the labor force had always been low, and after the pandemic, it became worse. Pandemic forced women to move to casual labor, and they had to manage work with household chores. She also highlighted the massive digital divide between males and females in India and mentioned that only 21% of Indian women use mobile internet compared to 42% of men.
Given the poor employment ecosystem for women, the budget has offered no positive direction for women’s employment. She opined that the budget’s preference for capital expenditure in infrastructure projects would not benefit women compared to men.
While the construction industry has improved over the years, women’s presence has declined. Additionally, while most of the budget is focused on digitalization, it is not sure how it will ensure employment creation.
She also talked about disparity in the self-employment and entrepreneurship sector. While women-led enterprises are increasing, their marketing is not enough, hindering their competency. She believes that women and child protection schemes are lacking, and the capital expenditure-led budget will not benefit them. There is a need to acknowledge the employment crisis, universalize PDS allocation, strengthen SHGs, and provide better social protection.
Prof Vibhuti Patel summed up the entire discussion by stating that the Union Budget 2022-23 is silent on the concerns of social protection and has not focused on issues of inflation, access to education and healthcare for all. She also mentioned that there has been a reduction in fund allocation for National schemes such as MNREGA that benefit the population falling under BPL (Below Poverty Line).
Ravi Duggal added that the gender budget statement should be developed by undertaking gender audits and that we need to focus on strengthening gender- disaggregated data.
Dr. Sanghamitra Dhar and Prof. N. Manimekalai concluded by saying that we need to understand the multi-stakeholder roles in the gender budget conversation and that it is high time we formulate and implement policies for women in different fields including agriculture.

Comments

TRENDING

Although sporting genius, Wasim Akram was mascot of cricket globalisation era

By Harsh Thakor*  Since Independence India and Pakistan produced a galaxy of cricketing stars that permeated cricketing artistry of legendary heights. Amongst this bunch.Wasim Akram manifested pure cricketing genius to the greatest height.I speculate how India’s fortunes would have changed had partition not taken place and Wasim playing for India. Wasim Akram explored realms untranscended in bowling wizardry, like a painter devising new art forms or a scientist experimenting. He simply re-defined the art of reverse swing, reversing the ball in and out. There were bowlers quicker, more accurate and with better records, but none equalled Wasim in an all-round package. He was more lethal with a new and old ball than any fast bowler ever. Wasim could produce balls that were surreal, with his reverse swing, defying laws of bio mechanics He was simply the epitome of versatility, possessing a repertoire of six different deliveries within an over itself, disguising deliveries in the manner of

Zakir Naik tumult, Catholic Church power abuse: will Anwar Ibrahim save Malaysia?

Anwar Ibrahim By Jay Ihsan*  Anwar Ibrahim, a hardcore reformist who took a punch to his eye in 1998 from then inspector-general of police, Rahim Noor, has finally been given the mandate by Malaysians to serve as the nation's 10th prime minister. Anwar knows too well the burden of staying true to both trust and faith the people have in him requires every once of commitment and dedication. The question is will he be apologetic for his transgressions enroute to "rebuilding" Malaysia? In his overzealousness to get the job done, Anwar, 75, needs to safeguard every bit of gumption to address prickling issues plaguing the safety of the nation especially those involving communal sensitivities. For one, dare Anwar get rid of terrorist hate preacher and fugitive Zakir Naik for inciting religious unrest in Malaysia? In November 2016, India’s counter-terrorism agency filed an official complaint against Naik, holding him responsible for promoting religious hatred and unlawful activi

Galileo-Catholic church affair: must history repeat at Malaysia’s St Francis Xavier church?

By Jay Ihsan*  Christianity is the enemy of liberation and civilization -August Bebel Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence -Jacques Maritain Real Christianity can be summed up in two commands: Love God and love people. - Joyce Meyer Pious XI was too neutral to mention the gas chambers; decent people like my own family were turned into devils by crude Christianity - Lionel Blue Religious doctrines cannot escape the liberty of thoughts and expression. To each their own, so it is said. From all things nice to all things that make one cringe - religion is polarised and in this regard, Christianity has over time faced the wrath of bigotry espoused by those "bequeathed" to protect it. Take Pope Francis for example. He had a secret meeting with giant pharma Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla last year while the world struggled to make sense of the word "lockdown" and suffer adverse effects of the Corona virus vaccines produced by Pfiz

Qatar World Cup has a strong Bangladesh connection: stadium construction, t-shirts

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan*  The FIFA World Cup fever has unquestionably cut through the minds of mass people all over the world. Stadiums in Qatar are buzzing with football fans and athletes representing their countries at the “Greatest Show on Earth". The magic of the FIFA World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. This is one of the highest viewed events in the world, with the 2018 event viewed by about 3.6 billion people worldwide. But this crowd is not aware of the contribution of migrant workers who helped build the very stadiums where the matches are playing in. Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which got the oxymoron of celebration and controversy. This also created the potential for Qatar to Showcase its monumental economic achievements and unique culture on the global stage. The motto for Qatar’s bid team in 2010 was ‘Expect Amazing’ and migrant workers across th

A classic, 'Gandhi' ignores merciless cruelty unleashed on militant freedom fighters

By Harsh Thakor  The movie ‘Gandhi’ produced by Richard Attenborough, which was released 40 years ago on November 30th, 1982, was classic in it's own right. Ironical that it took an Englishman to embark upon the making of a film on this legendary figure. I can't visualize a better pictorial portrayal of Gandhi's life or an actor getting in the skin of the character an exuding the mannerisms as actor Ben Kingsley. Episodes are crafted and grafted surgically, illustrating how Gandhi wove fragmented bits into a cohesive force, to confront he British empire. Most boldly the movie unfolds how British colonialism subjugated the Indian people to barbaric cruelty. With great mastery the cinematography captures the vast Indian landscapes and essence of livelihood of Indians under colonial rule. The movie most illustratively shows the crystallisation of anti-colonial fervour from the embryonic stage and how it fermented into an integrated movement. In a most subtle manner it illustr

Film on evidence of viability of in situ communitarian urban water management

By Rahul Banerjee  Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that centralised urban water management in India is in deep crisis. Water supply is both inadequate and extremely costly, water harvesting and recharging and used water treatment and reuse are mostly absent and storm water management is a disaster. Under the circumstances, the only viable solution is communitarian in situ water management and this is what has been proposed in the latest guidelines of both the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and the Swacch Bharat Mission. Our NGO, Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti , has not only implemented communitarian in situ water management but has also carried out research to provide evidence of the unviability of centralised water management and the suitability of the former. Here is a film based on a detailed research that I did on urban water management in Chhattisgarh for the National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, that succinctly critiques cen

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Terrorism and right-wing politics in Bangladesh: Exploring the nexus

By Shafiqul Elahi*  Although terrorism as broadly understood as violent extremism or militancy has long historical roots, in Bangladesh, it surfaced in the 1970s through leftist militants. Later, it shifted to Islamist extremism in the 1980s and flourished throughout the 1990s, and reached its peak in the early 2000s. The menace of terrorism particularly in the form of Islamic militancy has widely been felt in Bangladesh's society and polity since 1999. Since then, several militant groups have gained ground and started to challenge the government over the issues of the political process and social systems in the country. The central goal of the operations of the militant groups is to establish an Islamic regime in the country. The Fifth Amendment of the Bangladesh Constitution under the Zia regime in the late 1970s and the eighth amendments of the Constitution under the Ershad regime in the early 1980s have placed Islam at the state level to recognize its importance in the country

Chemical project promoters of Tamil Nadu have a lot to learn from Gujarat

By NS Venkataraman*  When good investment opportunities in chemical industry exist which are known in a region and which are yet to be exploited, it can be said that the chemical industry in the region is at the cross roads. However, when there are good investment opportunities in chemical industry but which are ignored and focus shifted to some other sector, it can be said that the scenario amount to poor strategy. Tamil Nadu government has now fixed a target for achieving one trillion dollar economy in the state by 2030. This is a bold and forward looking initiative and certainly this target is achievable, even though the year 2030 is only seven years away. With the target of achieving one trillion dollar size economy, it is necessary to give due role and importance for the growth of the chemical industry, since several chemical products are feed inputs for several other industrial sector such as automobile, electronics, textile and so on. Growth of such chemical in

Floods: As ax falls on most vulnerable, Pak seeks debt cancellation, climate justice

By Tanupriya Singh  Even as the floodwaters have receded, the people of Pakistan are still trying to grapple with the death and devastation the floods have left in their wake. The floods that swept across the country between June and September have killed more than 1,700 people, injured more than 12,800, and displaced millions as of November 18. The scale of the destruction in Pakistan was still making itself apparent as the world headed to the United Nations climate conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.  Pakistan was one of two countries invited to co-chair the summit. It also served as chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China for 2022, playing a critical role in ensuring that the establishment of a loss and damage fund was finally on the summit’s agenda, after decades of resistance by the Global North. “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep,” Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told Reuters. By the first week of September, pleas for h