Finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the union budget for the third time on February 1. She has increased the budgetary allocation for Women and Child Development Ministry in her tenure as FM.
In FY21 budget, the finance minister had set aside Rs 30,000 crore for WCD ministry -- a 14 per cent increase over the FY20 budget. The total amount allocated for the social services sector, which includes nutrition and social security, and welfare, was increased from Rs 3,891.71 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 4,036.49 crore in 2020-21.
However, pandemic and prolonged lockdown have hit Indian women really hard. From teachers to housewives, and from migrant women to working women all have borne the brunt of coronavirus.
According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, the urban female labour participation rate in the country fell to its lowest in November at 6.9 per cent since the day data was first computed in 2016.
CMIE data added that India's biggest challenge on the employment front is getting its womenfolk into the labour force. CMIE data showed, in contrast with men, only nine per cent of all women of working age were employed until November.
Besides, women employed as domestic help in cities, at construction sites and in call centres, and in handicraft and retail units, have lost jobs during the pandemic. The participation of young females fell to 8.7 per cent during the pandemic, the data added.
Not just losing jobs, women also suffered atrocities during the lockdown. From states like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Nation Commission for Women registered the most complaints of domestic violence in a period between March and September 2020.
The government has launched a range of schemes for women empowerment and to protect women against domestic violence.
Schemes like One Stop Centres, Mahila Shakti Kendra, Swadhar Greh, Ujjawala are some that target women who have suffered domestic violence, or who have been victim of sexual exploitation.
In the previous budget, the scheme "One Stop Centre" saw a major boost of Rs 385 crore from Rs 204 crore. Moreover, the allocation for the Mahila Shakti Kendras had doubled from Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore in Budget 2020. Similarly, the allocation for Working Women's Hostel scheme tripled from Rs 45 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 150 crore in 2020-21. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' was allocated Rs 220 crore in FY21.
It remains to see whether, in Budget 2021, the FM will announce more women-centric measures.
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