Women demand FM to incentivize asset building, health insurance

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (UNI) Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury, Bollywood actor Preity Zinta and eminent women rights activists today urged Finance Minister P Chidambaram to provide more allocation for the fair sex in the coming budget especially by incentivising asset building in their name, health insurance for elderly women and widows and reducing VAT on personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins.

Ms Chowdhury, who led the delegation of women including representatives of lawyers, NGO groups, FICCI, FLO among others, highlighted the discriminations being faced by women in the form of female foeticide, infanticide resulting in skewed sex ratio and urged the Finance Minister to incentivize the asset building in the name of women by home loans for women, including single women, and providing softer interest rates to them.

To improve women's hold over property, the delegation proposed differential rate of property tax and loans be made available at lower rates of interest if the property is acquired in the name of women. They also demanded that the budget must encourage industrial houses to promote asset building by their employees in the names of their wives.

Moreover, women's access to all types of credit sources, especially from commercial banks, cooperatives and micro-finance institutions be increased, they demanded. Evaluation of success of credit programmes for women should not be linked only to immediate repayments but must be assessed in terms of its impact on women's livelihood and acquisition of productive assets. Even allowances be given to working women to encourage men to have working wives, the delegation proposed.

Endorsing the cause of girl child, actor Priety Zinta urged Mr Chidambaram to provide encouragement to parents to prevent female foeticide and infanticide and also provide level playing field to girls as far as education was concerned.

Pointing out the importance of making available personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins to women at affordable price to reduce high rate of maternal and infant mortality, Ms Chowdhury said her ministry would write to all the state governments to remove the 12.8 per cent VAT on sanitary napkins as it affected the household budgets.

Highlighting the plight of elderly women, especially widows, the delegation urged Mr Chidambaram to launch a National Health Scheme in the budget to provide health insurance to such disadvantaged section of the society.

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