New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) Women's groups have welcomed the 24 percent increase in allocation to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, but felt that it was still below the expectations as it was the smallest allocation for any Ministry.
''While an increase in the defence budget to protect the nation is laudable, war against poverty, illiteracy and gender disparity was equally important. As long as gender disparity remains, all the promises of creating an inclusive equitable society will remain a distant dream,'' said Dr Ranjana Kumari, President, Women Power Connect (WPC), a collective of 600 NGOs.
She said though efforts being made to promote female education under the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme through the increase in the number of schools and hostels are praiseworthy, but apart from this scheme, the increase in allocations for upper primary education and for higher and technical education do not have any specific percentages directed to women's education specifically.
In its assessment, the collective said specific schemes and programmes must be designed and implemented to promote education for women and that the 20 per cent increase in allocation is so designed that women get their fair share of the benefits.
Though there has been a 15 per cent increase in overall allocation under the health sector, within this increase there has been no specific allocation for women.
It said while the compensation given to anganwadi workers has been increased from Rs 1000 to Rs 1500, but this is also a marginal increase considering the rate of inflation and the high cost of living.
The increase in the income tax exemption limit for women from Rs 1.45 lakh/annum to Rs 1.80 lakh/annum is indeed an extremely positive step. However, efforts must also be directed towards developing skills and entrepreneurship amongst women employed in small businesses and agriculture, it said.
It however, regretted that there has been no attempt to make loan and credit facilities more easily accessible to them.
UNI MMG BDP KN1734