(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 28, 2009
TO FINANCE MINISTER
Organisations Demand Specific Budget Provisions
ON June 23, representatives of
level organisations of women --- namely, the All India Democratic
Association, All India Women�s
Conference, Centre for Women Development Studies, Joint Women�s
Guild of Service, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, National
Indian Women, Muslim Women�s Forum and Young Women�s Christian
India --- sent a memorandum to the finance minister Shri Pranab
Drafted in context of the Budget 2009, the memorandum urged additional
allocations and strengthening of the gender component in various
to benefit the women and children who belong to the poorest sections of
organisations felt it
is extremely important to take into consideration the opinion of
organisations in pre-budget consultations so that the gender component
of the union
budget could be enhanced and strengthened. Hence they urged the finance
minister to take
the suggestions made and the demands raised in the memorandum while
the budget proposal for the current year.
Asking for much
more effort insofar
as gender budgeting is concerned, the memo pointed out that the Mid-Term Appraisal Committee
of the Tenth
Five Year Plan recommended that 30 per cent of all allocations in all
ministries must reach women, but it is far from being implemented.
Misleading computations have
exaggerated the amount actually being spent on women. For instance, the
budgets for ICDS or the Ministry for Social Justice and
even items like Fashion Designing are regularly shown as women
expenditure. The ambit of gender budgeting should include gender audit
gender outcome assessment in all ministries and departments at the
state levels. There must be greater transparency, and accountability of
and the states, regarding the actual disaggregated expenditure, as
the allocation of funds, in the final statement. Further, it should
beyond expenditure policies to cover the gender-differentiated
tax policies as well.
The memo suggested the
1) Allocations must be
provided to the gender budget cells located in the different ministries
strengthen their functioning.
2) The recommendation about 30
per cent of
expenditure for women must be implemented rigorously.
3) Sex-disaggregated data must
available as far as possible to enable assessment of the expenditure
outcomes in gender terms.
4) The notion of
schemes for children etc
automatically under the gender component is patriarchal and
must be discontinued. Child related expenditure should be placed under
different head, or indicated separately.
As the continuous and
steep rise in prices of essential
commodities is a matter of grave concern for women, the memo demanded
measures to ensure price stability and prevent speculation in essential
regretted the recent withdrawal of the ban on forward trading of wheat
demanding that it be re-imposed and extended to cover all essential
Food insecurity impacts women
children first and has emerged as a major problem across the country.
latest NFHS-3 highlights the poor nutritional status of women and
the girl child in particular. The promised National
Food Security Act lowers the
grain entitlement of all ration card holders including the most
and Antyodaya sections from 35 kg to 25 kg. This is a step backward,
than a strengthening of the system. It is all
the more surprising in the present
situation when government has successfully procured adequate stocks
lying unutilised in government warehouses.
Targeting has undermined the PDS
and led to unfair
exclusions, depriving a large section of
the poor, including widows, single women, tribal and Dalits the right to
access cheaper food grain, and many other welfare measures as well. The
therefore suggested the following:
1) Return to a universal system
of distribution under
the PDS, rather than the present targeted system, at Antyodaya prices.
2) Ensuring sufficient
quantities of supply
in the PDS system across all states to both BPL as well as APL
restoration of earlier quotas; consideration of
the spiralling prices, and
assured minimum food security for all citizens.
3) Substantial increase in
the Food Corporation of
4) Revocation of the Essential
Act and restoration under it of the items removed from its scope;
of the act to curb speculation and hoarding.
The agrarian crisis continues to
extensive, with rising input costs rendering farming an unviable
Women of rural households have been particularly adversely affected.
a crucial role in the agricultural sector, their identity as farmers
acknowledged, and supported through the budget measures. Although
agriculture has increased, women cultivators continue to be denied
institutional credit because of the absence of land titles and other
in their name. The memo therefore suggested the following:
1) Special measures to ensure
cultivators not holding land titles but cultivating household land or
tenants get access to institutional credit as per RBI guidelines.
2) A comprehensive
debt relief package for farmers to address indebtedness, and explicit recognition of the
indebted women cultivators as a separate entity. Replacement of half-hearted measures to provide region specific
relief packages and token interest subvention by debt write-off
small and marginal farmers across the country. This should include
non-institutional debts as well. Ensured availability and accessibility
interest free farm loans to women. In any case, the interest rate
exceed four per cent.
3) Fair and
remunerative prices to farmers for their produce.
4) Relief for families of
farmers who have
committed suicide. Recognition to women as farmers in this respect by
governments, and consideration in relief packages of specific
widows in subsequent cultivation. Consideration of the educational
children, particularly daughters. Antyodaya cards for all suicide
households till a universal system is in place.
Women form a large chunk of the
work force, especially in the home based and domestic work segments.
not been recognised as employees, and
are not paid
wages even under government schemes where they are employed in
numbers. The Unorganised Workers� Social Security Act 2008 is
restricted to BPL
workers, and fails to provide for any funds to cover the proposed
lakhs of women who opt for work under NREGS are often denied minimum
to gender insensitive work norms. The absence of adequate opportunities
productive employment is a major problem facing women. The memo
suggested the following:
1) Adequate funding of NREGS;
mechanism to ensure that funds reach the districts in time so that
not held up and wages not delayed.
2) Proper work
norms in NREGA so that
women earn the statutory minimum wage after a
day�s work. Provision of childcare facilities, rest and shade and other
facilities as specified in the guidelines, with separate financial
3) Extension of
guarantee to urban areas.
4) Ensured minimum wages for
workers, mid-day meal workers and public health workers who perform
5) Increase in maternity benefit
to cover the costs of nutrition and care (in addition to JSY) to Rs
6) Increase in hostels for
7) Removal of BPL criterion for
social security measures to unorganised workers; a grievance redressal
to address their complaints.
8) Recognition to the economic
of unpaid family workers by extending social security provisions to
9) Recognition to migrant
workers as a
special category with special needs; provision in the budget for this
vulnerable section to access the PDS, health and educational
even when they are on the move.
There has been a decline in per
public expenditure on health. The latest NFHS points to very poor
in basic health indicators, including child immunisation. Serious
under-financing of major schemes need to be overcome. The ICDS
programme has to
guarantee universal coverage with minimum quality services, as per the
Court mandate. In this context, the memo suggested the following:
1) Increase in public health
at least 5 per cent of GDP.
2) Revitalisation of the primary
care system with adequate infrastructure.
3) Increased outlays for the
provision of drinking water, universal
sanitation and food security
as part of the commitment to safeguarding the people�s health.
4) Setting up 14 lakh Anganwadis
to universalise the ICDS as per the latest
Supreme Court order.
Increase in provision
for all child specific schemes, including ICDS, to at least Rs 12,000
Assured iron supplementation for anaemic womenacross all age spans.
5) Increased outlays for nurse
To achieve the goal of
universal, equitable, quality education for all
children, up to 14 years of age, the budget allocation must be
increased to at
least six per cent of the GDP. The Right to Education Bill Amendment
permit privatisation of education, and must extend the provision of
universal education to the 3-6 age group as well. Significant increases in central
on both literacy and education are required, and special allocations
made to ensure greater access to women. The memo therefore suggested
1) Adequate funding for
2) Increase in SSA expenditure
universal access; upgrading of �Education Centres� to proper schools to
all children with good quality schooling.
3) Primary schools to be set up
km radius of all habitations.
4) Increase in secondary school
ensures provision of proper secondary schools within three km of all
habitations to enable girl students to attend school.
5) Special funds to ensure
functional toilets (with water provision) for girls in all schools;
for building compound walls in schools to upgrade security.
6) Enhanced scholarship scheme
for girls in
secondary schools, with special emphasis on girls from educationally
7) Increased allocation for
oriented training and non-stereotyped skills development.
SHGs: Increase in allocations for
self-help groups; more
funds for credit at interest rates not exceeding four
per cent per annum; health
insurance and social security for members, training and marketing
the groups to become economically productive. Strengthening of the
Mahila Kosh for support to the SHGs.
Women: Adequate outlay for implementation of the Sachar
recommendations, with allocation for a sub-plan which includes Muslim
they among the most deprived and marginalised sections of society.
of Urdu language teaching in schools, better amenities in local
for madrasas. Special allocations for hostels and sanitation in schools.
and Dalit Women: Special focus on electrification of all
tribal areas, primary health centres, drinking water, and hostels for
girls with required facilities. A separate monitoring mechanism to
the special fund is effectively utilised. Provision to ensure that
entitlements reach dalit habitations as well.
Schemes for Women: A major step-up in outlays for welfare
and social security schemes for women and children, with special
single women and women-headed households.
In particular widow pension schemes, shelters for women in
situations, hostels for single working women with or without children,
for children without adult protection, shelters for senior citizens
need to be
provided support. The allocation for welfare schemes must be increased.
for the widows with sons losing their eligibility for pension must be
Special allocation for addressing the needs of senior citizens.
the funds to implement the Domestic Violence
Act have not been provided at the central level, institutional
implementing the act are not in place. Hence many women are facing
in utilising this act. There must be a budgetary allocation to ensure
of institutional mechanisms for proper implementation of the act.
and Mentally Challenged Women: Special schemes and
allocations for addressing the needs of
physically and mentally challenged women.