Maharashtra’s ‘Gender Budget’ for financial year 2020-21 is unfavourable toward women’s empowerment and development, and there has been no advocacy towards gender equality, according to the findings of a study undertaken by UNICEF, Maharashtra.
The findings were presented by Anuradha Nair, social policy specialist, UNICEF, Maharashtra at the second-day online National Conference on Women@Work organised by Pune International Centre (PIC), along with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE), Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy (MSEPP) and India Development Foundation (IDF) on Saturday.
According to Nair’s ‘A Gender Budget analysis of Maharashtra’, the Gender Budget for FY 2020-21 is about 7,300 crore, which is about 2 per cent of the state’s total budget, and departments with highest allocations include tribal development, social justice, rural development, housing and public health.
The findings reveal that there have been no interventions for physical health disorders prevalent among women and no allocations for counselling centres for women’s mental health issues, while health insurance for sex reassignment surgeries for transgender persons is not allotted. In higher education, no measure has been undertaken to prevent dropouts, while the financial assistance for higher education is only 1 per cent of the entire education budget.
“The investment in agriculture and allied occupation is only Rs 29 crore, and even though the state policy highlights the plight of farm widows and abandoned women who are dependent on agriculture, it is being ignored. Also, special skills training and employment opportunities for disabled, transgender, survivors of flesh trade and unemployment allowance for those in the unorganised sector has not been looked into,” said Nair.
“There’s a need for a ‘Gender Action Plan’ as women account for 48 per cent of Maharashtra’s population. The reproductive, productive and community roles borne by women has not been addressed by the state. There’s no investment for women’s unpaid care work and to encourage their participation in the economy,” she added.
Soma Wadhwa of the IDF, who manages the DISHA programme that aims to support underprivileged women in India to learn marketable skills, said, “For women’s empowerment, the challenge is to work towards overcoming internal barriers like personality and attitude drawbacks, lack of confidence and education deficiencies, and external barriers like gender bias and stereotyping and absence of infrastructural, counselling, socio-political and economic support. We have to establish a continuum of services connecting education to skills, jobs, entrepreneurship, markets and growth.”
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