NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK – 13 April 2012
In the first ever conclave of its kind, the National Mission on Empowerment of Women (NMEW) held multi-stakeholder consultations with the aim of discussing the General Budget from a gender perspective, here today. The focus was to bring about a holistic discussion on infusing a gender dimension through inter-sectoral convergence of schemes and programmes across ministries within Government of India. It also aimed to understand the implications of the Union Budget for women in India.
The issues discussed ranged from fundamental topics such as strengthening the larger policy landscape so as to provide an enabling ‘gender architecture’ to the various ministries/departments, the problems of exclusion of beneficiaries and the measures needed to be taken to address gender concerns within the budget, to the need to strengthen the institutional structures and mechanisms for better monitoring and evaluation of budgeted schemes and programmes. Speakers stressed towards evolving a structure that enables purposive gender planning across a large number of central ministries. In addition, the need to address gender budgeting through innovative means of implementation of schemes, and the fundamental issue of the measures needed to be taken to address gender concerns within the budget were deliberated. The process of budget planning, the pre-budget discussions on various schemes and programmes, public provisioning on gender schemes within the budget, whether these allocations reach the intended beneficiaries, the means and mechanisms within ministries that would enable beneficiary incidence analysis, presence of Gender Budget Cells within Ministries/departments, their limitations in terms of human resources deployment, etc., were discussed at the meet. Speakers also felt that there was the need for continued dialogue and better coordination between the Ministries to share insights and experiences that would lead to internalizing gender budgeting within the Ministries.
Other issues that were highlighted were: do the schemes reflect the needs of women beneficiaries at the ground level; do the funds allocated for these targeted beneficiaries reach the intended target groups; means within ministries/ departments to assess this; are women aware about the several inter-sectoral schemes designed and implemented for their development; do they have full information of how to access these benefits; what are the limitations and barriers that prevent women from accessing these resources and schemes; how can these be mitigated; and how can data collected from the field be made more representative such that it aids policy formulation.
The concept of gender budgeting seeks to incorporate gender concerns and gender issues in the general budget from the planning stage itself, and consistently carried through mindful implementation and systematic evaluation of the various schemes and programmes of the government. Representatives from several ministries such as Finance, HRD, Agriculture, Minority Affairs, WCD, Rural Development, Health, Industry, and Labour and Employment participated in the meeting. Members from several civil society organizations were also present at the conclave.