Gender budgeting

What is Gender Budgeting?
* It is an attempt to scrutinize the budget from the gender lens and bring out the gender differential impact.
* In Gender Budgeting, “Gender” means women and her empowerment.
* Gender budgeting is used as a tool for effective policy implementation where one can check if the allocations are in line with policy commitments and are having the desired impact

Gender budget is not:
* A separate budget.
* About spending the same on women and men.
* Just about assessing programmes targeted specifically at women and girls.
* Confined to budgets alone. It covers analysing various economic policies from the gender perspective.

Why is gender budgeting necessary?
* The achievement of human development is highly dependent on the development and empowerment of the 496 million women and girls. In addition, the Constitution of India has mandated equality for every citizen of the country as a fundamental right.
* Nevertheless, the reality is that women in India continue to face disparities in access to and control over resources. These disparities are reflected in indicators of health, nutrition, literacy, educational attainments, skill levels, occupational status among others.
* The poor status and value attached to women is also reflected in the fact that the female sex ratio for the 0-6 age group declined from an already low 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001, implying that millions of girls went missing in just a decade. There are a number of gender-specific barriers which prevent women and girls from gaining access to their rightful share.
* Unless these barriers are addressed in the planning and development process, the fruits of economic growth are likely to completely bypass a significant section of the country’s population. This, in turn, does not augur well for the future growth of the economy.

What are the issues in Gender Budgeting adopted by India?
* Total magnitude of Gender Budget is very low.
* Focus has been mainly on identifying programmes/schemes meant entirely for women or having visible components that benefit women.
* Very little information is available in the public domain as regards the assumptions made by various ministries in the reviews of their expenditure profiles from a gender perspective.
* Many misleading and patriarchal assumptions limit the scope of Gender Budgeting.
* Sectors such as Water Supply, Sanitation, and Food & Public Distribution still remain outside the purview of the GB Statement.
* Large schemes do not figure yet in the Gender Budgeting Statement.

What needs to be done to make gender budgeting more effective?
* Gender budgeting should be fully incorporated into standard budget processes so that it becomes fully institutionalized. Otherwise, even initiatives adopted with enthusiasm may not be sustained. Some elements of gender budgeting, such as an analysis of benefits or tax incidence, may require periodic special efforts.
* It should address specific goals, such as reducing inequality in educational attainment, that have clear benefits and can be measured even with somewhat crude tools and data.
* It should draw on civil society for support and assistance with the more research-oriented aspects, and should apply to subnational levels of government where relevant. It should cover both spending and revenue.
* It should not be a rule set specific goals for spending on women-related objectives because this tends to reduce flexibility, making the budget process less effective.

Related Questions:

1. Women empowerment in India needs gender budgeting. What are requirements and status of gender budgeting in the Indian context? (UPSC Mains 2016)

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