The Gender Budget has risen by a mere 6.8 per cent in the 2021 Union Budget – Rs 1,53,326 crore from Rs 1,43,461.72 crore in the 2020-21 Budget Estimates. However, the allocation for Women Specific Schemes – those with at 100 per cent allocation for women – has fallen from Rs 28,568.32 crore to 25,260.95 crore, a decline of about 13 per cent. Nevertheless, the allocation for Pro-Women Schemes – those with at least 30 per cent allocation for women – has risen from Rs 1,14,893 crore to Rs 1,28,065 crore – an increase of 11.46 per cent.
For the uninitiated, the Gender Budget is divided into two parts: Part A, which deals with schemes with 100 per cent allocation for women and Part B, which deals with schemes in which at least 30 per cent of the money is allocated for women.
Part A of the Gender Budget shows some stark year-on-year differences in allocations.
The budget for the centrally sponsored National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education has come down from Rs 110 crore in budget estimates for 2020-21 to just Rs 1 crore in this year’s budget estimates.
Yet another steep decline in allocation can be seen in the Nirbhaya Fund, which had been allocated Rs 10 crore as against Rs 855 crore in the previous budget.
Initiatives under the Women and Child Development ministry too have seen a 15 per cent decline in funding, from Rs 3919 crore in the last financial year to Rs 3,310 crore for FY 2021.
But the 2021-22 Budget estimates for the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (rural housing) and Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme have remained largely unchanged. Interestingly, both schemes together form three-fourths of Part A of the Gender Budget.
Initiated in FY 2005, the Gender Budget is an initiative to correct the gender disparities in allocation of funds for government schemes. As a member of the National Commission for Women in 2004, Nirmala Sitharaman had played a key role in integrating the idea into the Union Budget and in her 2019 Budget speech, she announced a committee to evaluate the Gender Budget.