Challenges and Prospects of Gender Budgeting in India

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Ms. Neha Shorie
Asst. Prof. Dept. of Commerce & Management
Mata Gujri Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jbp

Gender budgeting promises to focus on the role of rights, freedoms and the choices of women by giving information of content and focus of government policies. Today gender sensitive budgetary allocation might only constitute 5% of the total budget, yet the stand as a significant attempt at addressing gender inequality. However, gender budgeting exercise needs to be on guard against certain challenges facing it. Firstly, International Financial Institutions that stipulated to initiate economic reform policies in India like IMF, WTO can offset gender budget benefits. Lowering of import duties under WTO has resulted in a reduction of government’s revenue which in turn translated into lowering expenditure on social sector especially on women.

Secondly, the introduction of VAT has the impact of affecting the people’s spending rather than their income and thus tends to hit the poor more. Since feminization of poverty is an established fact VAT can be more harmful to the interest of the women.

Thirdly, the focus on reducing the fiscal deficit should not imply a cut on the gender equality and women empowerment schemes. Public-private partnership in enhancing expenditure on social sector needs to be encouraged.

Lastly, the scope of Gender Budgeting needs to be enlarged so as to cover what hitherto have been gender neutral departments or ministries. Enhanced allocation for women specific programmes needs to be supplemented by an overall evaluation of budgetary policies from gender perspective.
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