Gender inequality has encompassed all areas ranging from education, employment, health and in every sphere due to the pariah status historically accorded to women in society. Though gender equality is important for the development of the nation, elimination of poverty, as well as economic growth, women have had been left out from the developmental model and the planning process that the country adopted post independence. Women have remained at the margins of the developmental discourse.
Although Indian state has always had policies specially targeted at women, they have not been successful mainly because formulation of policies in gender-neutral terms entrench gender inequality rather than eliminating them. Provisions such as universal education, full employment that are contained in gender-neutral language have failed to empower women. For the successful implementation of policies, the importance should be given to the already existing inequalities in the society.
Apart from the language employed in the policy concerned, budgets play crucial role in its success. Budgets are generally gender neutral but as women and men are at the asymmetric levels of socio-economic development in India, the existing gender neutrality of the budgets can lead to many unintended negative consequences and this gender neutrality of budgets can in turn translate into gender blindness. The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy [NIPFP:2003] research has pointed out that gender equality prevails in our society because the center’s expenditures on women through schemes whose beneficiaries could be identified by gender was very small compared with the total size of the budget or of the problems they are to tackle. This has bought into light the need of a gender sensitive budget. It does not imply a separate budget but one that is sensitive to women’s needs and priorities.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW:
The concept of women development has become an integral part of development discourse and policy initiatives. There has been a gradual shift in the policy making from welfare of the women, to equity of women, to efficiency, and to empowerment. I propose to explore my research within this developmental discourse (Annas: 1993, Mahanta: 1994, Desai and Patel: 1985, Das: 1976 etc.) towards women.
The situation of women in India is an extraordinarily difficult topic to introduce, since there is probably no nation in the world with greater internal diversity and plurality [Nussbaum: 2001, pg 24]. In her book Martha Nussbaum talks about the capability approach that serves as a good basis for constructing political and constitutional guarantees. I also intend to look gender budgeting within this framework.
THE CONCEPT OF GENDER BUDGETING:
Gender budgeting is a dissection of the government budget to establish its gender- differential impacts and to translate gender commitments into budgetary commitments. It looks at the government budget from a gender perspective to assess how it addresses the needs for women in the areas like health, education, employment etc. It does not refer to a separate budget for women; rather it is a tool to scrutinize the government budget to reveal its gender differentiated impact.
There are different definitions of the concept.
” ‘Gender- sensitive budgets’, ‘gender budgets’ or ‘women’s budgets’ refer to a variety of processes and tools aimed at facilitating an assessment of gendered impacts of government budgets. In the evolution of these exercises, the focus has been on auditing government budgets for their impact on women and girls. This has meant that, to date, the term ‘women’s budget’ has gained widest use. Recently, however, these budget exercise have begun using gender as a category of analysis so the terminology ‘gender-sensitive budgets’ is increasingly being adopted. It is important to recognize that ‘women’s budget’ or gender-sensitive budgets’ are not separate budgets for women, or for men. They are attempts to break down, or disaggregate; the government’s mainstream budget according to its impact on women and men, and different groups of women and men, with cognizance being given to the society’s underpinning gender relation”. [Sharp, Rhonda: 1999; as cited in Anjali Goyal]
Many countries both in the developed and the developing world have undertaken gender budgeting. Australia was the pioneer in developing a gender sensitive budget in 1984. South Africa, UK, Srilanka are some other nations to practice gender budgeting (the gender budgeting across the world has been analyzed by many in various paers, e.g. Judd: 2002, Sharp:2003, Budlender: 2005, Stotsky: 2006, Bartle: 2002, Directorate General of Human Rights, Council of Europe:2005, Opinion on Gender Budgeting by the advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men: 2003 etc.)
According to Rhonda Sharp (Sharp: 2003) the main goals of gender budgeting are
to raise awareness among stakeholders of gender issues and impacts embedded in budgets and policies
to make governments accountable for translating their gender equality commitments into budgetary commitments
to change budgets and policies to promote gender equality.
GENDER BUDGETING IN INDIA:
Right from the First Five Year plan there has been endeavor towards the development of women, but those were not gender-sensitive. It was only with the Ninth Plan that ’empowerment of women’ became a matter of concern. It also directed to adopt ‘women component plan’ through which not less than 30 percent of funds/ benefits is expected to flow to women from all the general development sectors. The Tenth Plan reinforces the commitment to gender budgeting to establish its gender- differential impact and to translate gender commitments into budgetary commitments. The Department of Women and Child Development took the initiative for gender budgeting in 2004. The concept of gender budgeting has been introduced by the Finance Ministry in Union Budget 2005 to make sure that public resources are allocated in an equitable way. The gender budgeting provision has been included in the Union Budget 2005-06 under the statement 19, volume 1, Expenditure Budget.
The implementation of policies for emancipation of women through gender budgeting has been criticized by a many. According to Yamini Mishra and Bhumika Jhamb [Mishra and Jhamb: 2007] several schemes have been wrongly proiritised as being exclusively for women, therefore there is the need to proiritise women in all development schemes. Subrat Das and Yamini Mishra [Das and Mishra: 2006] argue that many of the figures given in the budget statement have highly questionable assumptions, as well as are unjustifiable and patriarchal. According to Nirmala Banerjee and Maithreyi Krishnaraj [Banerjee and Krishnaraj: 2004] a crucial interaction between analysis and structure of gender that currently exists in our society as well as with the elements necessary for transforming gender relations is needed from a perspective of what women want and in what form. Devaki Jain [Jain:2007] argues that along with various provisions under gender responsive budgeting there is also a need for more macro policy forums, for a more inclusive approach towards women’s empowerment. Here the argument of Subrat Das and Yamini Mishra [Das and Mishra: 2006] in a different paper regarding the capacity building of Gender Budgeting Cells is very significant. There is also a need for local level awareness and campaign for implementing policies to remove gender inequalities [Khurram: 2006]. Because, the objective of gender budgeting will be fulfilled only when it reaches the needy and deprived women [Chattopadhyay: 2006].
RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY:
I propose to study gender budgeting as an alternative approach to women’s emancipation since it has introduced a new strategy to achieve the constitutional theoretical goals in reality by maintaining a gender perspective at various levels of policy formulation and implementation that addresses women as the beneficiary group. I propose to take up the state of Assam as it has introduced gender budgeting in 2008-2009 under 12 departments having schemes with 100 per cent allocation for the benefit of women. The focus of my study would be on the schemes under the department of health and family welfare and the department of rural development. The schemes under gender budgeting included rehabilitation of women engaged in manufacture of illicit liquor, craftsmen training, randhan jyoti and dairy farming, apart from cooked mid-day meals and more scholarship for the girl child. The government has also introduced a new policy called ‘Mukhya Montrir Mahila Samriddhi Yojana. To analyse the impact of the policies with gender budgeting under the department of rural development I would also try to explore if the represented panchayat women member play any role in the functioning of various schemes. I will try to analyse how much amount of the budget has been allocated for those schemes and how effective it is for the beneficiaries.
Assam is one of the states having high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of around 400 per 1, 00,000 than the national level rate. Therefore I propose to focus on the gender budgeting under state department of health and family welfare through which schemes have been introduced to address MMR.
I have chosen rural areas of two districts of upper Assam – Golaghat and Dibrugarh. Dibrugarh is relatively an enhanced district with a medical college, a state university, and also a commercial hub, than Golaghat district. There have been number of organizations in Dibrugarh working with women issues, whereas there is a very few organizations in Golaghat. It would also help to compare the impact of the women related policies with the provisions of gender budgeting in the two district one with more organizations working with women issues and the other with a very few organizations. Thereby, it will help to analyse the ground realities of those schemes under gender budgeting.
In a situation where Budget has a direct bearing on policy formulation and implementation, it is believed that gender budgeting leads to effective policy formulation and policy implementation for the development and empowerment of women in our society.
This belief, however, has to be correlated with ground realities in order to ensure that gender budgeting is empowering the poorest of the poor women rather than maintaining intact the class distinctions that exist within women as a group.
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY:
The broader objectives of the study are as followed:
To analyze the strategies and tools of gender budgeting as a tool of women’s emancipation.
To explore the role of the ministry for women and child development, national commission for women as well the state commission for women.
To analyse the differences of the three types of policies for women- women specific, pro women, and mainstream public expenditure having gender differential impacts.
To analyze the allocation of money for those schemes and to explore the effectiveness of those schemes.
To explore the role of the voluntary organizations in functioning of those schemes.
RESEARCH PROBLEM AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
After the universal institutionalization of gender budgeting exercise in India, the central government and the state governments have taken various strategies to follow the provisions. It is in this context that makes the need to examine the effectiveness of the concept of gender budget or otherwise, important. The effectiveness of gender budgeting is, however, not just a matter of the policy formulated by GOI but includes the structures and institutions that mediate policy formulation and implementation.
What is the nature of the effectiveness of the different schemes those are women specific, pro women, and mainstream public expenditure having gender differential impacts?
What is the role of the government departments associated with gender budgeting; specially the Department of Women and Child Development and national and state commissions for women?
What is the role of voluntary organizations?
What is the significance of the gender budgeting cells under various departments?
In what way gender budgeting is empowering to women?
Does this empowerment include women from the margins of Indian society?
To what extent the schemes address the needs of the rural women?
For the research I would rely on both the primary sources and the secondary sources. In the first stage of my research I would do a comprehensive study of the literature on gender budgeting across the world. The research would be framed within the developmental discourse on women.
In the second stage of my research I will go analyse the reports released by Government of India and Department of the Women and Child Development for the understanding of gender budgeting in India. The reports of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy can be also another reference. Thereby, I intend to compare briefly between the western model of gender budgeting and the Indian to bring out the differences that mark gender budgeting in India and the west.
Since I propose to focus on Assam, in the third step of my research I would take up the case study of the rural areas of two districts of upper Assam (Golaghat and Dibrugarh). I will focus on the schemes for women under the gender budgeting provision of the department of health and family welfare (schemes to deal with MMR) and the department of rural development. For this purpose I would analyse the state government’s reports, the reports of the concerned ministries, the reports of the state commission for women, and the union as well as the state budgets.
In the forth stage, on the basis of the reports I would differentiate impact of the various schemes on the ground of women specific, pro women, and mainstream public expenditure having gender differential impacts that are functional in those areas of the two particular districts with the help of the secondary sources.
Field survey would be my fifth stage of the research. Interview methods (conventional, participatory, innovative) will be adopted to interview the government officials, officials from various organizations (particularly those working for the women e.g. Sodou Assam Pragatisheel Nari Sangathan, Association for Socio-Cultural Development, Dibrugarh District Mahila Samiti, Women Legal Aid Cell, North East Network etc.) working in those particular areas, as well as the interview with beneficiaries of the schemes under the gender budgeting provisions of the specified ministries. It would be a random interview method. Focused group discussion will be also used for a better result among the officials as well as the beneficiaries of the schemes. A questionnaire method (structured as well as unstructured) could be also used in some instances.
In the sixth stage of my research, with the help of the data collected in the field as well as the reports published by the central government and the state government, the research will attempt to analyse the schemes with the provision of gender budgeting and the impacts of the schemes on women from those specific areas. In a situation, where the women representatives of panchayats do not enjoy full autonomy in decision making, I’ll try to analyse how far gender budgeting has helped to emancipate women of those rural areas. I have proposed to focus on schemes both under the department of health and family welfare and the department of rural development as there is a correlation between the two in the context of rural women.
Introduction: An approach to women’s emancipation through gender budgeting.
(The concept of gender budgeting, the provisions under gender budgeting)
Chapter 1: Gender budgeting: a comparison between India and western countries.
(The framework and strategies of gender budgeting across the world with the help of secondary literature)
Chapter 2: Gender budgeting: an alternative strategy for a gender-equal society in India.
(Indian women within the development discourse and the government initiatives under various departments, particularly the health and family welfare, rural development through various schemes)
Chapter 3: Gender budgeting initiatives in Assam
(The status of women in Assam, the state commission for women and its functionality, the significance of gender budgeting cells under various departments, various government schemes from a gender budgeting perspective)
Chapter 4: Women’s emancipation through gender budgeting: The authenticity of the approach- The case study of rural upper Assam.
(Analyzing the data from the field work)
Chapter 5: Conclusion.
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