Dated: 10th Feb.2012
Shri Pranab Mukherjee,
Hon'ble Finance Minister
Government of India
New Delhi - 110001
Sub: Budget Memorandum from Women’s Organisations
Dear Shri Pranab Mukherjee,
We, the undersigned national women’s organizations, representing a large section of women of this country, especially those from underprivileged and marginalized sections of society, would like to place before you some key concerns that need to be addressed in the annual budget.
We would, firstly, like to put on record our deep concern about the growing disparities in our country and the fact that current development policies are leading to further marginalization of women. It is well-known that the burden of these disparities is also gendered and women are increasingly amongst the most poor and asset-less amongst every social community and group. In view of this we urge that, at the time of the framing of the forthcoming annual budget, care is taken to ensure equitable allocation of resources so as reverse this growing trend, and to strengthen efforts to achieve equality. Making resources available to women, who form a significant section amongst the marginalized and vulnerable, will contribute to more equitable growth. A gender friendly society is necessary to achieve social advance and deepen democracy.
In view of this we urge you to:
Take effective policy measures to control price-rise, including an immediate ban on the forward trading of all essential commodities, especially foodgrains, pulses, sugar, etc., a curb on speculative manipulation of imports and exports, urgent and stringent de-hoarding measures, a reintroduction of an effective Essential Commodities Act, and above all, a reversal of the disastrous policy of deregulation of petrol pricing, which has led to cascading effect on prices of goods
Ensure universal coverage under the proposed National Food Security Act with sufficient allocation to provide 35 kgs. of grains at not more than Rs 2/- per kg per nuclear family through the PDS. Direct cash transfers should not replace the distribution of food and other essential commodities. The allocation for the food subsidy must be adequate to address this basic need of the people of this country.
Provide at least 200 days per household under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act; revise the schedule of rates to fix realistic, gender-sensitive work norms; pay no less than the statutory minimum wages set by the States with full price indexing. Enact an effective Urban Employment Guarantee Act
Allocate 6% of GDP for a universal and affordable Health Service or introduce a National Urban Health Mission after incorporating lessons learnt from the experience of the NRHM. Strengthen rural health care infrastructure with adequate budget allocations for Primary Health Centres. Withdraw all forms of user fees in the public health system and provide essential drugs and diagnostics free of cost in all PHCs. Bring the entire essential drug list under price control. Enhance the allocation for training of nurses.
Allocate 6% of GDP for Education and ensure implementation of the RTE Act.
Allocate resources for creation of more jobs for women protective schemes for unorganized sector women workers, migrant workers, etc. Expand the provisions of the Unorganised Worker’s Social Security Act 2008 to all categories of unorganized sector women and remove the BPL condition. Recognize women working in the ICDS (Anganwadi), National Rural Health Mission (ASHA) and Mid-Day Meal Schemes as employees and ensure minimum wages to all along with regularization of working conditions.
Increase resources for universalisation and full coverage under the ICDS, with programmes for child care and protection of the girl child. Universalize and increase maternity benefit allowance. Universalise the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna, which currently provides a conditional cash incentive of Rs 4,000 for pre-natal and post-natal care and extend it to reach all pregnant women in all districts, irrespective of BPL category
Increase allocations for food production, strengthen procurement, storage and distribution mechanisms in the agricultural sector and make a special budgetary provision for women farmers.
Enhance gender specific resource allocation for tribal, dalit, and minority women, and ensure that funds under these heads are not diverted.
The coverage of the SHG bank linkage programme should be expanded and direct credit by banks to SHGs should be part of the priority sector. Interest subsidies on bank lending to SHGs should be increased through higher budgetary allocations for SHGs so that their repayment rate does not exceed 4% per annum. Women from vulnerable social groups like dalits, tribals and minorities should receive credit at interest rates that do not exceed 2% per annum.
Ensure adequate resources for implementation of laws relating to women and children.
Increase budgetary support for schemes to assist women-headed households, single women of different categories, senior citizens, victims of violence, and differently abled women and recognize women from economically motivated suicide affected households (peasants, handloom workers, etc) as a special category
Ensure the implementation of 30% allocations for women with proper gender budgeting in all ministries and departments and data systems that reflect numbers and actual allocations for women beneficiaries.
Take 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.
Sir, the undersigned women organizations urge you to take these aspects into consideration during the formulation of the Union Budget 2012-13 and ensure that it adequately reflects the concerns of women.
With thanks, and in anticipation
Sd/- Sd/- Sd/- Sd/-
Vimal Thorat Ms.Sudha Sundararaman Ms.Annie Raja Mary John
(AIDMAM) (AIDWA) (NFIW) (CWDS)
Sd/- Sd/- Sd/-
Dr. Mohini Giri Dr.Jyotsna Chatterjee Azra Abidi
(GOS) ( JWP ) ( MWF)
Sheela Kakde Leila Passah
(AIWC ) (YWCA)
BACKGROUND NOTE ON BUDGET MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY WOMENS ORGANISATIONS
Women are a part of society and all aspects of economic and social development leave their imprint on their lives. Our Budget Demands are an outcome of the following issues and developments:
Price Rise and Declining Food Security
The escalation in the prices of essential commodities, especially food items, over the past year by more than 10% has drastically affected home budgets, and women have been the worst affected. The proposed Food Security Bill should take into account the reality of malnutrition and anemia amongst women and children. Over the last several years we have followed debates on contested claims on definitions of poverty and the poverty line with deep concern. We believe that these are attempts to deflect attention from the urgent need to universalize the PDS and to delink entitlements such as food from the Planning Commission's debatable poverty estimates, or the outcomes of the equally flawed Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), 2011. The PDS must include commodities like pulses, sugar, coarse grains, cooking oil and kerosene at subsidized rates; and provide at least 35 kilograms of food grain at Rs 2 per kg to each nuclear family. Cash transfers should not be allowed to replace the mandated supply of low-priced food grains in the PDS.
Agriculture and Rural Dvelopment
The continuing crisis in agriculture has disturbing social implications, especially in rural India where the majority of women still reside.
The contraction in land under food crops, despite reports of bumper harvests is a major concern. There is an urgent need to improve the infra-structure, including improvement in roads, power, land and soil improvement, extension services, and pay heed to the needs of dry-land agriculture and cultivation of crops such as millets, oilseeds and pulses, which are crucial for food security.
State allocation for agriculture and rural development must address the urgent need for irrigation, particularly in rain fed areas, where tribals and other marginalized sections live. Attention must be paid to increasing employment opportunities both in agriculture as well as rural non-farm employment, especially for women.
There is an urgent need to address the skewed landholding pattern and the lack of entitlements to women. We are disturbed that the Government of India has completely abandoned the agenda of land reforms and related measures
There is need to ensure that women cultivators can access institutional credit at nominal interest not exceeding 4% and debt relief without insistence on land titles and other collateral in their name. Relief packages for suicide ravaged families should recognize widows in this category as farmers and address the problems faced by them.
There is a need for special focus on these areas where tribals generally live, since these have reported the worst indicators by any indices
The support for sustainable agriculture programmes under the National Rural Livelihood Scheme and the Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran programme should be delinked from microfinance operations and the formation of SHGs. Women farmers who do not wish to be part of SHGs must also be able to benefit from the support to be given under these programmes. The interest subsidy under these programmes should be increased so that the repayment rate of women borrowers is not more than 4 per cent.
It is shocking that in over 11 months of this fiscal year only 52% of the previous year’s budget allocation has been utilized under the MGNREGA. Thus, despite the growing need for remunerative work, MGNREGA has provided work of only 37 days per household. This has happened at a time when material costs for implementation of the MGNREGA have increased substantially due to inflation and wages too have gone up.
There are several issues with regard to faulty implementation. Allocations do not reach the districts in time, delaying payment of the centrally-determined wage in large parts of the country and work is often held up. While these must be addressed, statutory minimum wages must be paid in accordance with the Minimum Wages Act 1948. These must be brought in line with the price level with a revision in the Schedule of Rates so that they are realistic and gender-sensitive, as was suggested by a Committee set up by the MoRD in 2008, whose recommendations, unfortunately, have been ignored. Efficient monitoring of MGNREGS is needed to check misuse and non-utilisation of funds. There is also an urgent need to put in place an Urban Employment Guarantee Act.
There is an urgent need to address unemployment of women on a priority basis. As per the NSSO data, 25% of women are workers but deeper analysis shows that only 15% women in India find paid work. Of those working, almost 96% are in the unorganised sector, with large numbers working in the home based and domestic work segments. They are not recognised as employees and are denied minimum wages, maternity benefits, child care facilities etc. There is growing unemployment among women and there is urgent need to address the employment needs of rural women, including provision for diversification of jobs. In the urban sector too they are concentrated in low paid sectors with insecure conditions of work. This continued economic dependence remains an obstacle to advance women’s rights and improve their condition.
There is need to register women workers in the unorganized sector, especially in the home-based, and domestic work segments and to ensure that schemes under the provisions of the Unorganised Worker’s Social Security Act 2008, are available to all women and not confined to those falling in the category of BPL workers.
Women working in Government schemes like ICDS, NRHM, Midday Meals in Schools, etc are still paid an honorarium or have to depend on user fees. Migrant workers should be recognised as a special category and their need to access to PDS, health, education and child care facilities etc.at destination be provided for.
The lack of public child-care facilities for all working women including from the unorganised sector remains unaddressed. Maternity benefits should be increased and should not be linked to the 2 child norm or to BPL conditions, or to the age of the mother.
As per the National Health Profile (2009), 69.5% of children in the age group 6-59 months, 55.53% of ever married women and 57.8 5 of pregnant women in the 15- 49 age group, are anaemic. The 11th Five Year Plan fell short of its goals in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality given that the MMR is 212 as against the goal of 100 per lakh live births, and the IMR is still 47 as against the objective of 28 per 1000 live births.
As compared to a promised public health expenditure of Rs. 1,75,000 crores for the NRHM, the actual expenditure was only about Rs. 55,000 crores in 2010. As against the very modest target of reaching 3% of the GDP, the actual achievement was only 1% only in the last fiscal year.
While improvement in public health is based on elimination of poverty and food security, there is need to provide safe drinking water and sanitation facilities universally, especially in rural areas and urban slums on a priority basis. Cost-recovery pricing and privatization of water supply makes already scarce resources even less affordable to the poor and should not be allowed.
Almost one in two children under the age of five is malnourished. The ICDS presently covers less than half of the 16 crore children below six years in the country. It should be extended to ensure effective health care delivery to children under six and their mothers; the centres must be set up particularly in areas where SC/ ST populations are concentrated. The quality of food served in ICDS centres and under the mid day meal scheme needs to be improved considerably.
In most states there is no provision of child care under the MGNREGA. As more and more workers are today located in the informal sector of the economy, and many are migrants, the child care needs of these children from the vulnerable sections need to be addressed through specific planning and resource allocation. There is also a growing need for providing shelter to children who are without adult protection.
India is in the 148th position globally on the index of adult literacy. To overcome this Government should make available free, universal and equitable quality education. To reduce drop out rate of girls, special funds should be earmarked to ensure separate and functional toilets with water provisions in all schools and for building compound walls in schools to upgrade security. Primary schools need to be set up within 1 km radius of all habitations, especially in rural areas, and proper secondary schools within 3 km of all habitations. There should be more hostels and scholarship schemes for girls both in secondary schools, and for children of migrant workers and more allocation for vocational, job oriented training.
Tribal and Dalit Women
There is a gross violation of the Constitutional norm that allocations for SCs and STs be in accordance with their share in population. Guidelines with regard to earmarking of SCSP (16% of Plan Allocations for SCs) and TSP (8% of Plan Allocations for STs) have not been followed. Proportional allocation for SCs, STs and minorities must be made, with a well-defined gender component.
The special package of social security and nutritional support of for tribal and dalit women in TSP and SCSCP should include special support for girl child in these communities and residential schools for them. Schemes for literacy and enhancement of number of scholarships for girl children must be initiated.
The latest NSSO data shows that tribal women are migrating from rural to urban areas in great numbers. These women are working as contract labourers in brick kilns, construction and mining operations. A registration of such workers should be done and migrants should receive basic social security benefits. The budget should allocate money for their housing, health and educational needs.
Special packages should be provided for rehabilitation of women displaced during course of land acquisition or diversion of forest lands.
Gram Sabhas need to be provided with technical and financial support for the effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act, especially in states where rejection rates are high and where the provision of joint pattas is not being implemented effectively. A forest produce price commission should be set up as recommended by the JPC on the Forest Rights Act. The women forest produce collectors should be protected by providing a minimum support price for all minor forest produce. Allocations should be made for technical support to assist women to process minor forest produce at the local level, and market access should be facilitated by the state to ensure that women collectors are not exploited by middle men.
Although, several schemes have been launched for development of minorities since 2006-07, the financial and physical achievement and utilization of several schemes such as the Minority Scholarship Scheme has been very poor. Adequate outlay must be provided for implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations. A special sub plan with focus on women’s health and education should be formulated.
Single Women, Women-headed Households
The coverage of single women and widows and women headed households needs to be enhanced under all beneficiary schemes, and in particular pension schemes, shelters for women in distress, provision of hostels for working women with or without children. shelters for senior citizens, need to be provided support to expand and improve quality of services. The allocation for social welfare schemes must be increased for beneficiaries as well as for administrative expenses. The provision regarding widows with sons losing their eligibility for receiving the widow pension should be removed. Special allocation for addressing the needs of senior citizens needs to be made.
Women Victims of Violence
With growing incidents of violence against women, there is need for an additional focus on ensuring support and shelter for women victims of violence. These include:
Recognition of women victims of violence as a category in all social security schemes.
Adequate allocations to address the safety and security of women employed in the organised and unorganised sectors
A single window which provides holistic package of services for women and girls in distress.
Allocations for shelter homes, help lines, legal aid, counselling and referral services
Special Women’s Desks in all police stations
Rehabilitation, medical aid and contingency (all of which must be accessible at the block level).
Increased outlays for effective implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005
Prioritise allocations towards implementation of a National Task Force in Conflict Zones.
Differently Abled Women
This is one of the most invisible and neglected groups of women whose access to nutrition, health, education and employment are almost non-existent. They are left out of the limited government concessions and reservation available to disabled persons, especially if they belong to other marginal groups like schedules tribes and scheduled castes. The concerns of disabled women as a distinct group should be mainstreamed in all programmes and schemes in general, and special efforts should be made to incorporate their concerns in all schemes for women and children. Being a group suffering from multiple oppressions, efforts should be made to ensure that the concerns of differently abled women are taken into account in both the disability sector and women empowerment initiatives.
Self Help Groups
While the SHG bank linkage programme should be expanded and included as part of the priority sector, the priority sector tag should be removed from credit that is given by banks to microfinance institutions. The government should ensure that all women get credit at low interest . This will ensure that women borrowers are not forced into the hands of the MFIs. At the same time a law should be enacted and a regulatory framework should be put in place to curtail the exploitation by and profits of the MFIs. Such a framework should put a stop to the coercive, and exploitative lending practices of the MFIs. The government should play a supportive role for SHGs.
Strengthen Institutions and Agencies set up to Advance Women’s Rights
The National Commission for Women must receive adequate funds for independent and efficient functioning. Budgetary allocation must be made at the central level to ensure that the institutional mechanisms for the proper implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act are set up. Legislations such as the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 also need to be prioritised in terms of Union government outlays. Similar efforts should be made to implement other protective legislations.
It should be ensured that ministries prepare a public expenditure profile from a gender perspective. The target of 30% gender allocations under all ministries be implemented. A gender audit and gender outcome appraisal of all ministries and departments at the central and state levels should be conducted to ensure that resource allocations made under gender budgeting do not remain unspent, monitoring and supervision of expenditure and outlay with greater transparency and accountability is done at all levels, specific gender-based disadvantages are identified across sectors and accordingly plans and schemes are formulated to ensure that women from marginalised sections are given priority in all developmental interventions. The Gender Budgeting methodology adopted by the Union and the State governments should be reviewed forthwith.
In order to ensure the above, Government of India needs to make available Sex-disaggregated data at all levels to enable assessment of the expenditure and outcomes in gender terms.
There should be an increase in expenditure on child related schemes and children may be treated as a separate category and not clubbed together with women for the purpose of gender budgeting. The clubbing of expenditure on women with that on children, apart from being steeped in an approach that is both patriarchal and discriminatory in nature, gives misleading statistics with regard to the focus on gender in allocations. These figures may be provided under a separate head, or indicated separately.