People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 07

February 18, 2007

Women Organisations Meet FM


AN eleven-member delegation of representatives of women’s organisations met the finance minister on February 12 to apprise him of the expectations of crores of poor and workingwomen in India from the union budget.


Brinda Karat (MP), Subhashini Ali , Ashalata (vice-president , president and secretariat member of AIDWA), Jyotsna Chatterji (JWP), Indrani Mazumdar (CWDS), Bulu Sareen (Forces), Kalpana David (YWCA) and Annie Raja (NFIW) gave a memorandum to the finance minister. They said that while the concept of gender budgeting was a welcome one, unfortunately figures were being inflated to suggest that more was being done for women than was the fact. This needed to be corrected.


The delegation highlighted the fact that rising prices of food items was of the greatest concern to women and the budget must include measures to control prices. The most important of these would be expansion of the PDS to include two crore Antyodaya card holders (women headed households, widows, destitutes etc.). The BPL calculation also needed to be rectified and many who had been left out could be included. Additional items, especially pulses should also be added to the list of subsidised items.


Expansion of the NREGA to at least 200 more districts; institutionalisation of the ICDS, regularisation of the workers with enhanced allowances and expansion of the scheme; social security for women workers in the unorganised sector; increased credit at 4 percent to the SHGs; increased widow pensions were among the other demands raised. The delegation also stressed that of 6 percent of the total GDP must be spent on education and the needs of female students for vocational training, scholarships, hostels etc. must be given priority and 2.5 percent of the GDP must be spent on health, provisions for safe drinking water and sanitation must be made.


Acute distress in the rural areas must be addressed, the FM was told. The farm sector must be given more credit, rural infrastructure spending must be increased and remunerative support prices guaranteed. Extension services are to be enhanced and women rural workers given training.


The delegation also demanded sub-plan for the Muslim community and said that all sub-plans for the most deprived (SC, ST, Muslim) must give priority to the women of these communities.


The finance minister gave the delegation members a patient hearing and assured them of his best efforts.