People's Democracy

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


No. 08

February 24, 2008




Women's Organisations Demand Additional Budgetary Allocations




A DELEGATION of leading national women's organisations including AIDWA, AIWC, CWDS, JWP, YWCA of India and NFIW met the finance minister P Chidambaram on February 14, 2008 and presented a memorandum to him requesting for additional budgetary allocations and strengthening of schemes benefiting women and children.


Noting the contents the finance minister assured that he would look into the concerns specially those related to widows pension.


He further advised that the women's organisations should approach the states and make them accountable, as it is their responsibility to ensure that the funds allocated by the centre are utilised to the maximum.


The memorandum submitted the concerns of national women's organisations representing millions of women, most of whom belong to the poorest and most deprived sections of society. It brought to notice the repeated request for involving women's organisations in the pre budget consultations, so as to enhance and strengthen the gender component of the union budget, given the impact that the budget has on women as members of the labour force, as citizens, and as home makers.


The text of the memorandum included the following suggestions and demands:





While the attempt to assess allocations made for women in the annual budget through the gender budgeting is noteworthy, this effort has to be enhanced considerably. The mid term appraisal committee of the tenth Five Year Plan recommendation advising 30 percent of all allocations within all ministries to reach women is far from being implemented.


Misleading computations have artificially exaggerated the amount actually being spent on women. For instance, the entire budgets for ICDS of the ministry for Social Justice are regularly shown as women specific expenditure. The ambit of gender budgeting should include gender audit and gender outcome assessment in all ministries/ departments at central and state levels. Further, it should extend beyond expenditure policies to cover the gender-differentiated implications of tax policies as well.








The continuous rise in prices of essential commodities is a matter of grave concern for women. The budget must ensure that strict measures are taken to ensure price stability and prevent speculation in essential commodities.

Food insecurity impacts women and girl children first and has emerged as a major problem across the country, especially in recent times. The latest NFHS-3 highlights the poor nutritional status of women and children, and the girl child in particular. The undermining of the PDS through targeting and the inability to ensure adequate food grain stocks procured from Indian farmers, have both played a role in this. Targeting in the PDS has proved to be excessively prone to errors of unfair exclusions depriving a large section of the poor, including widows, single women, tribals and dalits of BPL ration cards and thereby access to cheaper food grain. Those who have cards do not get the full quotas. As strengthening of the PDS is a commitment of the CMP, we demand:






The agrarian crisis continues and there are particular pockets of agrarian distress that need special attention. Women of rural households have been particularly adversely affected. Although credit to agriculture has increased, women cultivators continue to be denied access to institutional credit because of the absence of land titles and other collateral in their name. We therefore demand





Women form a large bulk of the unorganised work force, especially in the home based and domestic work segments. Women workers have been active participants in the NREGS and have contributed to its success. But the vast majority of women workers are underpaid and operate in highly insecure work conditions. The absence of adequate opportunities for productive employment are also one of the major problems facing women. We therefore demand:




There has been a decline in per capita public expenditure on health. The latest NFHS points to very poor performance in basic health indicators, including child immunisation. Serious issues of under-financing of major schemes such as the creation and up gradation of public health infrastructure, the provision of emergency ambulance services, the provision of essential drugs and supplies, and the failure to create institutional frameworks for programmes have to be overcome. The ICDS programme has also not been able to meet targets because of inadequate geographical coverage. The expenditure per child on supplementary nutrition and childcare is inadequate and the range of activities carried out in the centres also fall short of requirements. In this context, we demand:





The government is still far from allocating 6 percent of the GDP on education, as per the commitment made in the CMP. Significant increases in central government programmes on both literacy and education are required, and special allocations must be made to ensure greater access to women. We therefore demand:




The memorandum requested the Finance minister to firmly uphold the promises contained in the CMP, and ensure that the interests of the poor and marginalised women are safeguarded by the policy directions adopted in the budget.