Women groups for gender budgeting, priority to rape victims



New Delhi: A number of leading women groups on Friday sought higher resource allocation in the forthcoming annual budget for implementation of steps to protect the fair sex from violence and exploitation and ensure their financial inclusion.

Expressing deep concern over "rise" in various forms of violence against women, the groups in a memorandum to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, specifically demanded "priority attention" in the budget for rape and acid attack survivors.

Referring to Verma Committee recommendations for multiple interventions to ensure dignity of women, the groups said budget should make funds available for safe public transport, rehabilitation of victims of violence, sanitation and setting up of child care centres for working mothers. The budget will be presented in Parliament on February 28.

The organisations which submitted the memorandum include All India Democratic Women's Association, All India Women's Conference, Centre for Women's Development Studies, Joint Women's Programme, Guild of Service, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, National Federation Of Indian Women and Muslim Women's Forum.

"It is disturbing to note that even the meagre Rs 20 crore allocated to a scheme for providing relief to rape victims in the previous budget was not utilised due to absence of implementation mechanisms. The lack of accountability and monitoring processes has to be remedied," the groups said.

They said enough funds should be facilitated for "widespread" setting up of crisis intervention cells, short stay homes, and other related measures to assist women victims of violence.

The groups asked the Finance Minister to make a provision for 30 per cent allocations of funds for women with proper gender budgeting by all ministries and departments besides ensuring accountability and transparency in implementing the schemes.

They demanded "effective" measures to unearth and recover "huge" accumulation of black money in the economy, including unaccounted money in tax havens abroad and use it for strengthening social security programmes.

Seeking budgetary support for schemes to assist women-headed households, single women of different categories, and differently abled women, the groups said pension schemes for women should be made "universal and unconditional".

"Special pension schemes for women who are victims of state violence, the 'half widows' of Kashmir, and those affected by violence in conflict areas to be designed with adequate funding," they said.

Opposing direct cash transfers instead of food and fuel, they said providing food and essential commodities at affordable cost was the responsibility of the government and adequate allocation should be made in the budget towards this.

Observing that women's work participation was declining which is an indication of negative impact of the sluggish economy on women, the groups said Government must take serious note of this critical situation and provide at least 200 days employment per household under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

"Further, to address the depressing state of female employment in urban areas there is a need to enact an effective Urban Employment Guarantee Act," they said.

Stressing on the need to increase availability of funds for health care and education, they demanded allocation of 6 per cent of GDP each for public health care and education.

"Increase allocations for food production, strengthen procurement, storage and distribution mechanisms in the agricultural sector and make a special budgetary provision for women farmers," they said while also seeking specific resource allocation for tribal, dalit, and minority women.

Women from vulnerable social groups like dalits, tribals and minorities should receive credit at interest rates that do not exceed two per cent per annum.

PTI