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An Assessment of UPA-I through a Gender Budgeting Lens

This article evaluates the United Progressive Alliance government's budgets over the past five years through the lens of gender - both from reviewing the gender budgeting statements in union budgets since 2005-06 and assessing the allocations to major programmes and schemes across various sectors that affect women. First, although the gender budgeting statements still suffer from flaws in methodology, it is clear that women are accorded low priority in government spending on development. Second, the creation of an independent Ministry of Women and Child Development has not resulted in any significant change in priorities for women. Third, a whopping 42% decline in allocations for schemes meant for women's welfare under the MWCD in the union budget 2009-10 puts a big question mark on how serious the UPA is in its stated commitment to women's empowerment.

An Assessment of UPA-I through a Gender Budgeting Lens

Yamini Mishra, Bhumika Jhamb

across all policies, programmes and schemes, in a way very few other instruments can ever do.

The GBS does the difficult task of trying to capture the total quantum of resources allocated for women across the different departments and ministries that report in

This article evaluates the United Progressive Alliance government’s budgets over the past five years through the lens of gender – both from reviewing the gender budgeting statements in union budgets since 2005-06 and assessing the allocations to major programmes and schemes across various sectors that affect women. First, although the gender budgeting statements still suffer from flaws in methodology, it is clear that women are accorded low priority in government spending on development. Second, the creation of an independent Ministry of Women and Child Development has not resulted in any significant change in priorities for women. Third, a whopping 42% decline in allocations for schemes meant for women’s welfare under the MWCD in the union budget 2009-10 puts a big question mark on how serious the UPA is in its stated commitment to women’s empowerment.

The authors are grateful to all the members of the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability for their inputs. Special thanks to Subrat Das for helpful comments and suggestions.

Yamini Mishra ( and Bhumika Jhamb ( are with the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, New Delhi.

Economic & Political Weekly

august 29, 2009

ince budgets reflect government’s priorities, it is pertinent to ask where women featured in the pri

orities of the first United Progressive Alli

ance (UPA) government. And as the UPA

begins another term, it is important that

they consolidate their gains and at the

same time do not repeat their mistakes.

Policies and budgets often tend to be

perceived as gender neutral, with the result

that they are designed and implemented in

gender blind formulations. Since they have

an impact a society replete with varie gated

and accentuating inequalities and dis

crimination, such policies often end up

exacerbating gender inequalities. There

fore, equitable considerations require that

policies and budgets address women’s

specific vulnerabilities and needs and

there is an emerging body of evidence to

prove this. Although one of the six core

principles of governance laid down in the

National Common Minimum Programme

(NCMP) was dedicated to women, i e, “to

fully empower women politically, educa

tionally, economically and legally”, how

far did the budgets of the UPA reflect this

basic principle is the important question

one has to ask. This paper focuses only on

the story told by the six union budgets

presented by the UPA government in its

last term and the recent union budget

of 2009-10.

Gender Budgeting Methodology

As regards budgets, a worthwhile effort of the UPA government has been the introduction of “Gender Budgeting” (GB) including a specific Gender Budgeting Statement (GBS) as part of the union budget since 2005-06. Although there is an urgent need to deepen the GB exercise in order to make it more meaningful, it is definitely a step towards greater transparency and accountability. The exercise has the potential of instilling gender consciousness

vol xliv no 35

the statement (since not all ministries and departments are part of this exercise as yet). This statement is divided into two parts, viz, Part A and Part B. While Part A compiles the budget outlays for all schemes meant exclusively for women (or schemes where 100% benefits accrue to women), Part B compiles the shares of budget outlays in composite expenditure schemes which benefit women if that share is at least 30% of the total outlay for the scheme. It is quite easy for the respective ministries and departments to iden tify the programmes/schemes meant entirely for women or which have visible components that benefit women, and subsequently report the relevant budget outlays in the GBS. However, the challenging task is to identify those programmes/schemes where it is difficult to specify the proportion of funds flowing to women. Such schemes are called composite schemes, which are listed in Part B of the statement. Although different ministries/departments have been reporting in Part B of the GBS, one needs to question the assumptions underlying the proportion of funds stated under specific schemes in Part B.

1 Assessing GBs 2004-05 to 2009-10

If the exact quantum of public expenditure earmarked or spent on women was available, it would have been easy to comment on priorities for women in the budgets in the UPA tenure. However, it is not possible to arrive at an exact figure of the quantum of public spending on women. In the absence of availability of such a figure, one could try to assess resources flowing to women through some approximations.

One way could be to use the figures presented by the government in its GBS which is produced as part of the union budget. This is summarised in Table 1 (p 62).

In assessing this table, some important points need to be kept in mind.

Table 1: Summary of the Allocations on Women as Presented in the GBS (Rs crore)

for Minorities and Post-

No of Total Allocations Total Allocations Total Magnitude of

matric Scholarship for

Demands* under Part A of the under Part B of the Gender Budget (RE) Statement**(RE) Statement***(RE) Minorities of the Ministry

2005-06 10 8,273.88 15,966.63 24,240.51(4.77%****)

of Minority Affairs. Last

2006-07 24 4,618.95 17,632.46 22,251.41 (3.8%)

ly, schemes under the

2007-08 33 8,428.66 13,919.43 22,348.09 (3.3%)

Ministry of Youth Aff airs

2008-09 33 14,875.15 34,748.20 49,623.35 (5.5%)

and Sports such as the

2009-10(BE) 33 15,715.68 41,141.93 56,857.61 (5.5%) *Those that report in the Gender Budgeting Statement. Nehru Yuvak Kendra ** Part A presents women-specific provisions where 100% provisions are for women.

Sangathan, National Ser

***Part B presents women-specific provisions under schemes with at least 30% provisions for women. **** Proportion of total Union Government Expenditure, shown in brackets. vice Scheme, Scouting This table reports only the revised estimates (RE) for the years prior to 2009-10, instead of reporting both budgeted estimates (BE) and RE for those years because (a) RE reflects the progress of and Guiding, Promotion actual expenditure during the course of the year while BE are budgeted figures presented before

of Youth Activities and

the start of the financial year (b) the change from BE to RE figures in case of the GBS would be misleading since the methodology of preparing the GBS has evolved continuously over the years.

Training and many others

Source: Gender Budgeting Statement, Expenditure Budget,Vol I, Union Budget – various years.

If the GBS is anything to go by, there is not much room for cheer. It is disappointing to note that not only have the number of demands for grants reported in the GBS remained stagnant for three consecutive years, the total allocations for women as a percentage of total government expenditure has stagnated at 5.5% over the last two years.

For the exact quantum of resources allocated for women, the GBS cannot offer critical insights as these figures are disputed (Das and Mishra 2006; Mishra and Jhamb 2007). There have been several flaws in this methodology in the past, only some of which have been corrected. This year too, several mistakes remain, to name but a few, Indira Awas Yojana – the rural housing scheme continues to figure in Part A of the GBS. This is despite the fact that the Outcome Budget of the Department of Rural Development 2008-09 reveals that till the end of December 2007, 70% of dwelling units constructed under the scheme were solely in the name of women and the remaining 30% were either in the joint name of husband and wife or in the name of the husband alone. Hence it is incorrect to assume that 100% of the allocations of Indira Awas Yojna are exclusively for women.

The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Yojana – a scheme under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj although slated under Part B (under schemes with at least 30% provisions for women) of the statement, shows its entire allocations (100%) under Part B of the GBS, rather than showing only that percentage of its allocations that flows to women. The same holds true for Meritcum-Means Scholarships for Professional Technical Courses, Pre-matric Scholarship

continue to report their entire allocations in the GBS despite being in Part B of the GBS.

In the framework of transparency, one of the biggest stumbling blocks of such a methodology is that there is very little information available in the public domain about the assumptions made by various ministries in the reviews of their expenditure profiles from a gender perspective. A far more rigorous, transparent and defendable figure would emerge, if the assumptions used in arriving at gender-specific components in the composite expenditure schemes are stated in advance.

Nonetheless, even though the absolute figures given in Table 1 cannot be seen as the exact amount flowing to women, an analysis of the pattern of expenditure over the years gives some indication of the trend on spending for women. What can be said, without any doubt, is that the priority for women continues to be abysmally low. Strangely enough, though this clear message seems to be reverberating from similar researches across the country, in a democratic polity one would have expected some serious efforts to rectify the situation.

Road Map for Gender Budgeting: It can hardly be disputed that the way GB is being done now leaves much to be desired. Interestingly, the government’s own road map for gender budgeting envisioned a far more comprehensive exercise including:1 (1) undertaking a review of the public expenditure profile of relevant union government departments through the gender lens; (2) conducting beneficiaryincidence ana lysis; (3) recommending specific changes in the operational guidelines of various development schemes so

august 29, 2009

as to improve coverage of women beneficiaries of the public expenditures; and

(4) encouraging village women and their associations to assume responsibility for all development schemes related to drinking water, sanitation, primary education, health and nutrition.

However, even four years down the line, the exercise that we see in the name of GB is essentially the first of the four measures listed above.

2 An Alternative Methodology

Since figures emerging from the GBS are disputed, as has been pointed out, an alter native method of analysis could be to analyse overall sectoral allocations as well as allocations of some major schemes which affect women. This section uses the following framework:

  • (1) We analyse overall allocations to some critical social sectors. Being the superset, the overall allocations would also have an impact on women. In fact, a broader and more comprehensive understanding of GB warrants this – a look at the larger picture rather than focusing narrowly on certain small gender specific schemes.
  • (2) We analyse some major schemes with significant components for women in different sectors. The aim is to look at the broad trends in the pattern of allocations over the years, and to look at the larger superset of schemes which will have an impact on various aspects of women’s lives. These schemes are not just those that are meant “exclusively” for women (where 100% beneficiaries are women) but also include those schemes which have a significant impact on women (where less than 100% beneficiaries are women).
  • (3) Where evidence from the field exists, we have tried to complement the budget story with women’s ground realities to identify the critical gaps in the implementation of these schemes.
  • For the purpose of this analysis, we have used revised estimates for the various schemes since the union budget documents brought out by the ministry of finance report only the RE of expenditure in the prior years. The actual expenditure figures for the schemes are neither easily available nor decodable. Moreover, referring to those figures could

    vol xliv no 35


    affect comparability of the time series data across different ministries.

    2.1 Institutional Mechanisms

    Before we look at the pattern of allocations for the critical social sectors, let us have a quick look at some of the institutional mechanisms for women during the UPA regime.

    Creation of a ‘Ministry’ of Women and Child Development: The UPA created an independent Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) in 2006, which previously was a department. However, one needs to probe further whether this has enhanced the priorities for women. There UPA’s claims regarding the creation of a separate MWCD must be taken with a word of caution.

    Other institutional mechanisms that have been created for women, like the Natio nal and the State Women’s Commissions, also need to be strengthened and given more teeth. The Eleventh Five-Year Plan has acknowledged the need to amend the NCW Act to give the commission more power – including financial, functional and statutory autonomy.

    2.2 Women’s Health

    First and foremost, one of the biggest concerns even from a gender lens is the abysmally low level of public provisioning for

    Table 2: Comparative Allocations of MWCD in the Years It Was a Department as Compared to the Years When It became a Ministry (Rs crore)

    health services merit more attention due to existing evidence on women’s health seeking behaviour, which has highlighted that women are more reluctant in accessing health services. For instance, studies have shown that for women in the reproductive age group, while reported morbidity is more than that amongst males of the same age, medical needs of girls and women are accorded less attention than those of men, a reflection of girls’ intrinsically low social value.

    Second, it is true that the UPA has come up with several new policies and measures, which have generated huge enthusiasm. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been launched, Natio nal Urban Health Mission is on the anvil, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (Health Insurance

    When It Was a ‘Department’ When It became a ‘Ministry’Scheme) has been launched and a new 2003-04 2004-05 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

    National Drug Policy is being formulated.

    (RE) (RE) (RE) (RE) (RE) (BE)

    While these are commendable, the ground

    Total allocations for WCD 2,203 2,454 4,898 5,853 6,919 7,428

    Total expenditure of the union government 4,74,255 5,05,791 5,81,637 7,09,373 9,00,953 10,20,838 Priorities for women and children in total

    expenditure of the government 0.46 0.49 0.84 0.83 0.77 0.73

    Priorities for schemes for women (not including children) within the ministry/department 6.7 9.2 3.0 2.9 3.8 3.7

  • (1) The figures in the last row have not tried to break up the nutrition component since details of the proportion of women beneficiaries are not available; these figures also exclude the lump sum provision for the north-east region.
  • (2) In addition to the MWCD/DWCD, several other ministries and departments also spend on women; however, this table captures allocations by MWCD/DWCD only. Source: Budgets at a Glance and Expenditure Budget, Vol II, Union Budget – various years.
  • reality of health needs of women has hardly changed, whether one looks at output indicators (like the huge shortfall in the primary healthcare infrastructure or shortage of personnel) or outcome indicators (like the unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality or the increasing levels of ana emia, etc).

    Third, for women in particular, certain components of the NRHM, such as Reproductive Child Health (RCH), Family Welfare, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), etc, need further scrutiny. Some observers have commented that significant portions of NRHM are still rooted in the family planning mould – something that is regressive and coercive in nature and has are two grounds to consider – one, if the move of converting the department into a ministry has resulted in any significant increase in the pot of resources available to women and children, and two, what it has meant for priorities for women (not including children) within the ministry. Table 2 compares these allocations in the years when it was a department to those after the creation of the ministry.

    The table clearly reveals that the creation of the ministry has not resulted in any significant increase in allocations for women and children compared to when it was a department. Allocations for women and children have gone up in absolute numbers but in relative terms (relative to the total expenditure of the union government), it is still a marginal increase and is still abysmally low, at less than 1%. Worse still, priorities for women, in particular, within the ministry/department have actually gone down from 9.2% in 2004-05 (RE) to 3% in 2006-07 (RE). The union budget 2009-10 brings a further decline in proportional resources for women! So the

    Economic & Political Weekly

    august 29, 2009

    health. Although the overall public spending on health has been stepped up over the years, as can be seen in Figure 1, it still continues to be low and the promise in the NCMP of allocating 2-3% of GDP on health has not been fulfilled. Combined allocation of the centre and states on health, the latest available data for which is 2008-09 RE, stands at 1.04% of GDP. This year saw a very marginal increase in spending on health and family

    Figure 1: Share of Health and Family Welfare in Union Budget as a Percentage of Total Budget

    welfare in the union


    budget. The share of health as a proportion 2 of total expenditure


    gradually increased to 2.2% in 2009-10 1 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

    (Figure 1) from 1.58%

    The figures for 2003-04 to 2008-09 are RE while 2009-10 is BE. in 2003-04. Source: Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (2009), Is the New Government Committed or Complacent? Response to the Union Budget 2009-10.

    Since public health is a state subject, majority of the responsibility regarding its expenditure lies with the states. Unfortunately, since 2002-03 there has been a gradual decline in spending on health and family welfare by all states as a proportion of GDP. Women’s access to

    vol xliv no 35

    been oppo sed by the women’s movement for years together now. This is evident from the component wise break-up of expenditure of NRHM. Although until last year, the UPA government did increase the allocations on some of the plan schemes addressing issues of women’s health, for instance, the RCH programme, the overall impact of such schemes cannot be expected to be significant as systematic investments are required to build capacity in the backward states to implement a significantly scaled up RCH programme. A study done by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) reveals that out of the total resources available under RCH, only 29% of the funds were utilised in Chhattisgarh and only 37.6% were utilised in Uttar Pradesh in the year 2005-06. There is evidence that there have been minor improvements in the recent years. The union government should have taken strong measures for capacitybuilding of the programme, implementing staff for RCH at the district and sub-district level in the backward states which would have enabled them to implement the programme effectively and utilise higher magnitudes of budget outlays. For JSY too, there is evidence that although it has increased institutional deliveries, the ill-equipped institutions have not been able to cope with the increased demand and the main incentive for reaching the institution is not safe delivery but cash benefit.

    Union budget outlays for Rural Family Welfare Services and Urban Family Welfare Services provide the salaries of auxiliary nurse midwife (ANMs) in the health subcentres in the rural and urban areas. As can be seen in Table 3, there is no denying that since 2003-04, allocations have been planning and reproductive health, to adopt a holistic perspective on women’s health so that other health needs of women are not neglected. Is not this overemphasis on women’s reproductive and maternal health and a neglect of their overall health also a gender issue?

    2.3 Women’s Education

    In education too, one of the primary concerns continues to be the low overall public spending on education, which is around 3.3% of the GDP, an amount grossly ina dequate to strengthen the public sector education system in the country. In addition, the public spending on education is much less than the 6% promised in the NCMP. There has hardly been any progress in terms of union government spending on education as a proportion of the GDP from 0.42% (2004-05) to 0.76% (2009-10). It is likely that women would be more affected by the persistence of the weaknesses in the education system since they face a historical neglect and the institutionalised hegemony.

    The UPA government took steps towards increasing the outlay for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid Day Meal (MDM) schemes until last year, which was indeed appreciable. However, even with these increases, outlays for both the schemes remained inadequate to address the requirement of resources in elementary education in the backward states. The allocation for SSA and the MDM scheme have remained almost stagnant in this year’s budget.

    Other women and girl specific schemes like Mahila Samakhya (MS), Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) and National Programme for Education of Girls at the Elementary Level (NPEGEL), the latter two now a sub-component of SSA, have continued to get low and stagnating magnitudes of budget outlays (Table 4). The allocation for National Scheme for Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education has gone down from Rs 1,305 crore to Rs 45 crore in 2008-09 and has been given a measly Rs 45 crore this year also. The allocation for MS remained the same as last year, which in real terms is a decline. However, it is not just the low allocations for such schemes that constrain addressing gender gaps in education. The design and conceptualisation of many of the schemes specifically for the girl child, also lack a long-term vision for addressing the gaps in education. NPEGEL, for instance, has drawn flak for looking like “…a loosely packaged bag in which ideas have been clubbed without any consolidated vision” (Kumar and Gupta 2008). Secondary evidences have shown that KGBV, which tries to give a second chance for mainstreaming rural girls belonging to deprived social backgrounds who could not study beyond class V, is severely limited by its very conceptualisation and budgetary planning. An interesting comparison of KGBV schools

    Table 3: Allocations for Some Major Schemes on Women’s Health (Rs crore)

    Scheme Year
    stepped up. However, the lack of any sub 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
    stantial increase in the outlays for these RE RE RE RE RE RE BE
    schemes in the UPA’s budget 2009-10 Rural family welfare services 1,561 1,722 1,259 982 1,947 2,228 2,335
    shows the neglect of human resource Urban family welfare services 119 121 122 72 129 158 157
    RCH programme 442 486 1,814 1,338 1,629 2,737 3,148
    component of healthcare delivery in the Development of nursing services 10 13 18 13 15 15
    country. This has to be seen in the context The figures exclude the lump sum provision for the north-east region.
    of the huge shortfall in the infrastructure Source: Expenditure Budget, Volume II, various years.
    and personnel of the primary healthcare Table 4: Allocations for Some Major Schemes That Impact Women’s and Girls’ Education (Rs crore)
    (PHC) facility in our country. Only 38% of Scheme Year
    the total PHCs have the critical staff and 2003-04 20 04-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
    only 3% of PHCs have 80% of the critical RE RE RE RE RE RE BE
    inputs required.2 Mahila Samakhya 14 15 24 26 34 38 38
    KGBV 1 90 25 13
    Lastly, our health policies for women Condensed courses for women’s education 4 5 5 5 6 6.3 6.3
    seem squarely focused on reproductive Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan* 0.15 224 1143
    health and are not premised on a holistic Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan 2,732 4,754 7,166 10,146 12,020 11,940 11,934
    understanding of women’s health needs Mid Day Meal scheme 1,375 1,507 3,011 4,813 6,004 7,200 7,214
    through a life cycle approach. The Eleventh Access and equity 16 5 6 6 0.90 0.27 0.01

    Plan has recognised the need to move * Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan is the re-modelled Scheme for Universal Access and Quality at the Secondary Stage (SUCCESS). The figures exclude the lump sum provision for the north-east region.

    beyond the traditional focus on family Source: Expenditure Budget, Volume II, various years.

    august 29, 2009 vol xliv no 35


    with Navodaya Vidyalaya (NV) schools, shows that not only does KGBV receive less money under every head, but its teachers are para-teachers with no stability, who get poor salaries and sporadic in-service training inputs which are mostly so generalised in even absolute terms from Rs 180 crore in 2008-09 (BE) to Rs 20 crore in 2009-10 (BE), (a reduction of 89%) which is shocking. In the union budget 2009-10, the finance minister announced that the corpus of the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) be

    Figure 2: Union Government’s Expenditure on Education as a Percentage increased “in recogof Total Budget

    nition of its role as an


    instrument of socio


    economic change and


    development” from

    2 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

    Rs 100 crore to Rs

    RE BE

    500 crore over the

    The figures for 2003-04 to 2008-09 are RE while 2009-10 is BE. Source: Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (2009), Is the New Government next few years, but

    Committed or Complacent? Response to the Union Budget 2009-10.

    that they cannot be expected to enhance their understanding of the girls’ pedagogic and developmental requirements (Kumar and Gupta 2008).

    It is important to recognise that enrolling and retaining girls in schools requires a far more serious and focused approach on the part of the state, which must go beyond the physical presence of girls within the school boundary walls, to address deep-seated mental blocks that bind girls to limited traditional roles. This requires concerted efforts on part of the state – designing better programmes, including addressing concerns around pedagogy and ensuring that these translate into better outcomes.

    2.4 Employment Schemes

    The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data clearly shows that the unemployment rate among rural males has increased from 5.6% in 1993-94 to 8% in 2004-05, and among rural females it has increased from 5.6% to 8.7% during this time period. In this scenario, concerted efforts need to be made to improve women’s participation in the workforce as well as the productivity of their work, especially in the light of the global recession which might aggravate the situation.

    However, Table 5 shows that in the 2009-10 budget, there has been a reduction in allocation for many schemes and

    allocations for RMK have declined from Rs 32 crore to Rs 20 crore. Likewise, allocations for Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP) have gone down by 64% and allocations for Hostels for Working Women have gone down again by 64% (from 2008-09 BE).

    The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is a major scheme for women’s employment as more than 48% of the total person days of work generated has been by women and the increase in allocation of NREGA from 2008-09 BE to RE reflects the potential of this programme. However, probing further, many concerns of women participating in the NREGS still remain unaddressed. The study by the Indian School of Women’s Studies Development in 2006 reported several challenges including lower wages being the prime reason for huge participation of women, denial of female-headed households and old women to access the scheme and absence of childcare facilities. A recent survey in 10 districts of six states has also revealed that the tenacious social norms against women working outside the home, lack of childcare facilities, continued illegal presence of contractors, too exacting productivity norms and delayed payments – all contribute to limited participation of women in some states (Dreze and Khera 2009). Given the overall significant partici pation of women in NREGS, efforts should be made to immediately address women’s concerns.

    What must also be questioned when the government’s schemes for women’s employment is being discussed is the overwhelming focus on self-help groups (SHGs) as a vehicle for women’s empowerment and which almost seems like a panacea for addressing all concerns of women. However, there is a growing body of literature on SHGs that suggests otherwise – that bookkeeping and maintaining financial records have overshadowed the critical issues of women’s empowerment, equity and justice; and there are evidences of even exclusion of Muslim, dalit and tribal women from many such groups, etc. Furthermore, in the hullabaloo of SHGs, it is important to remind ourselves that women, especially poor women, are increasingly excluded from formal sources of finance and, as a result, have to resort to borrowing from moneylenders at high interest rates (Chavan 2007). Financial inclusion requires increasing women’s access to all types of credit sources, especially from commercial banks and cooperatives and not just microfinance institutions. Further, schemes for women need to be conceived more creatively to cater to different dimensions of women’s vulnerabilities.

    The introduction of the Anganwadi Karyakartri Bima Yojana, a group social security scheme that covers anganwadi

    Table 5: Allocations for Some Major Schemes on Women’s Employment and SHGs (Rs crore)

    Scheme Year
    2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
    STEP 8 16 13 13 18 23 12
    Swayamsiddha 8 16 27 22 45 20
    Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for working mothers 41 94 100 91.8 91.5
    Hostels for working women 4 6 4.5 4 4 9.9 9

    a near stagnation in others. Swayamsidha, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh – – 0.01 10 12 31 20

    the integrated scheme of MWCD, aimed at NREGS – – – 10,170 10,800 30,000 39,100

    holistic empowerment of women, which Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana 9,640 4,590 7,650 2,700 3,420 6,750 under its ambitious second phase was to

    Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana 720 900 899 1,080 1,620 2,113 2,114 Swarnajayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana 94 122 160 250 344 515 515

    be launched as a countrywide programme

    Priyadarshini scheme – – – 1 10 23 27

    covering all blocks and with a larger cov-

    The figures exclude the lump sum provision for the north-east region. erage, has seen a reduction in allocation Source: Expenditure Budget, Volume II, various years.

    Economic & Political Weekly

    august 29, 2009 vol xliv no 35 65

    workers and helpers, could go a long way in addressing social security concerns of anganwadi workers, especially since they are not even paid the minimum wages.

    2.5 Most Marginalised Women

    Women are not a homogeneous group and acknowledging the fact that the discrimination women face is intersectional, it is important to assess how far budgets and policies have tried to address specific needs of the most marginalised women, including (though not limited to) dailt women, tribal women, Muslim women, disabled women, HIV positive women, etc. The commitment in the Eleventh Plan for revision of Women’s Component Plan (WCP) to prioritise needs of the most vulnerable women must be implemented.

    Plan allocations earmarked for SCs and STs in the union budget continue to be very low and far below what was promised in the Special Component Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan norms of 16% and 8% respectively as can be seen in Table 6 (p 67).

    It is difficult to assess what percentage of this goes to women. The Outcome Budget of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment notes that the proportion of women beneficiaries of this Special Central Assistance to SCP to the total number of beneficiaries was 15%, although the rationale for making this assumption is not given. Likewise, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs initiated the Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Plan to supplement the efforts of the state governments and places 25% of the provisions of the scheme in the GBS, again for which no rationale is given.

    Table 7 (p 67) shows allocations for some major schemes likely to affect dalit, tribal and Muslim women. The allocations for most schemes have gone up from 2003-04 levels but in the recent years, especially with the interim budget, they have stagnated. Moreover, the Ministry of Minority Affairs set up in 2006 has begun reporting in the GBS from this year. The allocation for the pilot scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women promised in the Eleventh Plan has been placed in the GBS. The Annual Report 2007-08 of the ministry claims that the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation catered to around 85% women beneficiaries and the scholarship schemes run by the ministry earmark 30% scholarships for girls.

    2.6 Women in Difficult Circumstances

    Women across India face serious violations of their civil and political rights. Worse still, violence against women has been increasing (National Crime Records Bureau). The kind of institutional structure that is required across the country to address the needs of women in difficult circumstances cannot be developed with such meager allocations as can be seen in Table 8. The inadequacy of the institutional structure to provide relief to women is particularly acute in parts of the country affected by armed conflicts like the north-east and Kashmir.

    The number of functional Swadhar homes which are meant for women in

    +35-#+++++#++ +()+#++.
    ##+ #+'#++
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    #+() 600 1400
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    august 29, 2009 vol xliv no 35


    Minority Women for which an allocation of Rs 0.9 crore is set aside from MWCD and Rs 7 crore from the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Although it is understandable that these schemes are in their nascent stages, one hopes that in the next year, allocations for these schemes would be stepped up significantly, if the government is serious about improving outcomes for women.

    3 Challenges That Remain

    While the government’s attempts towards Gender Budgeting is a welcome step, it will serve the larger goal of promoting gender equality only if it is understood more holistically and is done with the larger vision in mind rather than as a mere accounting exercise of identifying flows from the budget meant for women. The recent economic downturn notwithstanding, we must recognise that India’s much celebrated growth saga has been premised on women’s paid, underpaid and unpaid labour. Yet women’s larger concerns as economic agents have seen adverse trends, and statistics bear these out. In this context, some specific areas of concern have been summarised below:

    (1) Social Sector Allocations Continue to be Abysmally Low: Social sector allocations in India, despite some progress in recent years, continue to be abysmally low, whether you look at them in comparison with other countries or in relation to the low development indicators or even in relation to the targets set out in the NCMP (6% of the GDP to be allocated for education and 3% for health). Social sector allocations have a significant impact on women. For the budgets to be more gender sensitive, social sector allocations must be increased and at the same time the quality of spending must also improve. Even the progress made on the legislative front for women will

    Table 6: Plan Allocation Earmarked for SCs and STs from the Union Budget (Rs cr)

    2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 RE RE RERE RE BE

    Total Plan Exp for SCs from union budget 3,611 6,578 8,473 12,367 14,727 15,831

    Total Plan Exp for STs from UB 2,381 4,175 5,564 7,446 8,771 9,995

    Total Plan Exp of union government

    (excluding Central Assistance to State and UT Plans) 85,061 1,09,900 1,29,804 1,52,313 2,08,252 2,43,893 Proportion of total plan allocation earmarked for SCs (%) 4.25 5.99 6.53 8.12 7.07

    Proportion of total plan allocation earmarked for STs (%) 2.80 3.80 4.29 4.89 4.21 4.10

    Source: Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (2009), Is the New Government Committed or Complacent? Response to the Union Budget 2009-10.

    Table 7: Allocations for Some Major Schemes for Dailt, Tribal and Muslim Women (Rs cr)

    Scheme Year

    2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 RE RERE RERE REBE

    For scheduled castes

    Special assistance to SCP 377 374 398 440 487 578 469

    Machinery for implementation of PCR Act and Prevention of Atrocities Act 31 35 37 37 39 43 42

    distress remains terribly low. As per the Annual Report of the MWCD, 2007, number of such homes was 208 across the country, implying that there is not even one per district. Likewise is the case with Short Stay Homes, the number of which is much lesser than what a country as huge as India requires. An assessment of these two schemes – Short Stay Homes and Swadhar Homes, meant to provide shelter for women in distress – offers useful insights.3 First, in terms of coverage, these homes are concentrated in very few states and are not distributed evenly across the states. States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have the highest number of Short Stay Homes, while majority of the Swadhar Homes are concentrated in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Secondly, issues around irregular and untimely release of government grants, cumbersome procedures for release of funds for the homes, etc, further stifle the functioning of these homes. There is an urgent need for simplification of procedures for timely release of grants, revision of the dated financial norms and better and more effective monitoring. Another important finding was that the training imparted to women living in these homes is squarely focused on tailoring and cooking (traditionally seen as “women-related” activities) and women are not being taught other skills. Further, very little or no convergence was found in the present government-run self-employment generation programmes with these homes run by the ministry.

    New Schemes for Women in the Union Budget 2009-10: Some new schemes for women that interested organisations should monitor and track include the Conditional Maternity Benefit Scheme which aims to provide cash directly to pregnant and lactating women. This is an

    Self-Employment Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers – – – – 50 100 97

    For scheduled tribes

    SCA to TSP 461 497 689 817 817 860 900

    Upgradation of merit 51 77 188 222 162 195 218

    Construction of boys/girls hostels for STs 19 13 16 28 34 60 59

    For Muslim women

    Scheme for leadership development of minority women* – – – – – – 7

    important step towards recognising re-The figures exclude the lump sum provision for the north-east region.

    *Allocation as mentioned in Expenditure Budget, Volume II, Ministry of Minority Affairs. productive health needs of poorer women Source: Expenditure Budget, Volume II, various years.

    of this country. This scheme has been Table 8: Allocations for Some Major Schemes for Women in Difficult Circumstances (Rs cr)

    started although with a meagre alloca-Scheme Year

    2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

    tion of Rs 3.6 crore. The much-hyped


    “National Mission for Empowerment of Swadhar 0.80 3.69 5.5 13.5 13.5 13.5 13.5

    Women” also finds mention in the bud get Short Stay Homes 15.35 14.40 15 15.72 15.9 15.9 15.9

    document, though with just a token outlay Scheme for Rescue of Victims of Trafficking* – – 0.25 0.45 4.50 5.4 4.5

    The figures exclude the lump sum provision for the north-east region.

    of Rs 1 crore and so is the case with the

    * Modified to Comprehensive Scheme for Combating Trafficking in 2008. Scheme for Leadership Development of Source: Expenditure Budget, Volume II, various years.

    Economic Political Weekly

    august 29, 2009 vol xliv no 35

    mean nothing unless backed by adequate resources to bring these laws into reality.

  • (2) Capitalising on Women’s Underpaid and Unpaid Work: Many of the UPA’s flagship programmes continue to capitalise on and exploit women’s underpaid work. The SSA hires “para” teachers, who are usually class VIII pass and largely women; and pays them monthly wages as low as Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 and these account for approximately 16% of all schoolteachers in the country. Likewise, under the Inte grated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), allocations for which account for more than 95% of MWCDs budgets, essentially depends on the work of anganwadi workers and helpers, who were until recently paid around Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 per month respectively. Although this has seen some upward revision, the amount paid to them is still less than the minimum wages in most states. The argument for not paying them minimum wages is that these are “social workers” or “volunteers” and therefore they are not paid “wages” but are paid an “honorarium” since anganwadis are open for only a few hours in the day and hence the work is not supposed to be full-time. However, anyone with any sense of ground reality knows that the work expected from anganwadi workers is probably more than full-time work. The NRHM too relies on women’s unpaid work. The ASHA who is the most important component of the programme is expected to perform a formidable list of tasks and is also supposed to be an honorary volunteer. Although some states are making an effort to pay them, what they are paid is grossly inadequate. It is important that the state pays women at the very least for the work it gets out of them, let alone supporting women’s larger care work.
  • (3) Recognition of Women’s Centrality across All Sectors: Women’s location and centrality in all sectors needs to be recognised and policies for all sectors need to be gender responsive. For instance, given the changing demographics of feminisation of agriculture (since three-fourths of all women workers and 85% of rural women workers are in agriculture), the achievement of targets of agricultural growth targets will depend on whether or
  • not agricultural policies are gender responsive. To increase their productivity and economic contribution, women cultivators need land titles, credit, irrigation water, and infrastructure (technology, extension, and marketing support). Likewise, women’s employment in the formal sector has shown paradoxical trends with simultaneous increases in work participation rates, unpaid labour, migration for work and open unemployment (Ghosh 2009). It is important to bear in mind that the largest increase in the regular employment of urban women has been in domestic service. Women’s employment in the textiles and garments industry is growing but is often at much lower wages than men and with poorer working conditions. At the same time, the gender gap in the regular work, even in the formal sector, has gone up. In addition to proactive policies for encouraging greater women’s participation in formal work, it is important to focus on creating enabling conditions for women, education, training, childcare facilities, timing of work and ensuring safety and health of women workers.4

    Today, after more than 60 years of independence and state intervention and despite the myriad programmes, policies and schemes for women, persistence of gender-based disadvantages is evident in any output or outcome indicator that one might chose to pick. What is needed is a critical reflection on why these have not worked. Greater priority for women in budgets and policies, coupled with greater efficiency and effectiveness of resources for women is an absolute necessity if substantive equality for women is to be achieved.


    1 As stated in Gender Budgeting Statement, Union Budget for 2005-06, GoI, based on the recommendations of the expert group on “Classification System of Government Transactions” (July 2004).

    2 Health Information of India, 2008, Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, GoI.

    3 Study by the Centre for Market Research and Social Development, New Delhi in July 2007 and the report was submitted to the ministry in 2008.

    4 “Towards Inclusive Growth: The Gender Dimension”, Submitted to the Planning Commission by the Committee of Feminist Economists during the formulation of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan.


    Chavan, Pallavi (2007): “Access to Bank Credit: Implications for Dalit Rural Households”, Economic Political Weekly, 4 August, 3219-25.

    Das, Subrat and Yamini Mishra (2006): “Gender Budgeting Statement: Misleading and Patriarchal Assum ptions”, Economic Political Weekly, 29 July.

    Dreze, J and R Khera (2009): “The Battle for Employment Guarantee”, Frontline, 26 (1), 16 January, 4-17.

    Ghosh, Jayati (2009): Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising India (New Delhi: Women Unlimited).

    Kumar, Krishna and Latika Gupta (2008): “What Is Missing in Girls’ Empowerment?”, Economic Political Weekly, 28 June.

    Mishra, Yamini and Bhumika Jhamb (2007): “What Does Budget 2007-08 Offer Women?”, Economic Political Weekly, 21 April.

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