Today, the Aam Aurat too wants the Finance Minister to pay heed to her evolving needs this budget. Keeping up with voice share of women in all kinds of media and forums, the emphasis on financial empowerment of women is conspicuous in the previous few Budgets.
This has contributed significantly to the well-being of the average Indian family, boosting the country’s economy eventually. Budget being the key factor implementing a plan, must comply with the policies, rather than the policies being dominated by budget. In India, because of the poverty burden, the practical goal is to keep up the pace or steadfast the financial access of women for encouraging entrepreneurship.
In the previous year, the government allocated sufficient funds for the purpose of protecting women, ensuring fruitful campaigns against female feticide and domestic violence. Alongside, there has also been an improvement in drinking water supply and sanitization. But, in order to galvanize women further so that they can contribute actively in the global economy, there are a lot of factors to be considered in the Budget this year.
Here are some expectations women of the country would have from the upcoming Union Budget.
Education For The Girl Child
It is a known dictum that if you educate a man, you educate one person; if you educate a woman, you educate a generation. Women need to be empowered with grass root level education plans so that they are not treated as baby-making factories.
Education, being key to the empowerment of women, must be emphasized strongly. The recently launched ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ initiative of the Modi government seems to be a step taken in this direction. Along with education, nutrition is the other area of concern when it comes to the girl child. The upcoming Budget must look into the factors like elimination of gender inequality, so that every girl can receive at least the basic education that can enable her to stand on her feet and put her skills to productive use to support her family.
Emphasizing On Women Safety
Seemingly, ensuring good education and nutrition for the girl child is not enough. As per government statistics, a total of 3,09,546 cases of crime against women were reported in the year 2013 while the year 2012 witnessed 2,44,270 reported cases. In today’s competitive where 24*7 availability and instant networking can mean professional success and workplace recognition, flexible work timings have become imperative. With the increase of rape and other serious crimes against women across the country, it is very vital to ensure the safety of women so that they can hold down jobs requiring unconventional timings, feel emboldened to move around in society in a secure manner and enjoy a higher standard of living enabled by personal freedom. The upcoming Budget can include measures to factor in the above and allocate sufficient resources towards providing Indian women a net of security and personal freedom.
Health, Hygiene and Sanitation
Health and sanitization today form two of the direst concerns plaguing women of India today, more so in the case of rural women. Even though the previous year’s Budget had effectively considered these factors, India still lacks the basic infrastructure for public bath and toilets, especially in the rural areas, where even today people resort to open defecation and ablutions. Sanitation at hostels and educational buildings are also important to ensure that young girls are not deprived of schooling in their adolescence. In order to control diseases and foster healthy living conditions, the new Budget would come in for appreciation from the wary but hopeful female populace if it devotes much of its focus to these pressing issues.
Incubation Centers for Women Entrepreneurs
Given that economic liberation of women is one of the leading concerns in our country, the government must provide for financial centers, offering women micro amounts as credits or soft loans. Besides this, professional training centers are the need of the hour across the rural areas of the country, so that semi-skilled amateurs can gain professional competency in terms of technical support, managerial activities, marketing or other skills that will catalyze the overall production process in the economy. This will perk up the confidence levels of women across the country, leading to stronger economic activity and healthier GDP growth.
Finally, a higher tax exemption bracket is the fervent hope of all working women from the Modi government this year. In the previous years, women enjoyed a slightly higher tax exemption bracket than men. This year, they would be expecting to benefit from increased exemption limits under Section 80C.
Stronger reforms and initiatives to increase female literacy, transformative decisions with regard to women’s safety and personal freedom, increased hygiene and sanitation, dedicated resources and support for women entrepreneurs and women-friendly tax exemption limits are some of the key Budget interventions that the Finance Minister can incorporate to ring the voice of the Aam Aurat with bass.