Leading the way
Financial independence is the most important step to make women empowered. The expansion of the Lakhpati Didi scheme is a very important step for women. Empowering 83 lakh self-help groups (SHGs) with nine crore women is transforming rural landscapes, creating a million lakhpati didis. This is a commendable step towards fostering financial independence.
Sitharaman recognizes the transformative role of women in rural areas. The SHGs have not only empowered women economically but also played a pivotal role in reshaping the socioeconomic fabric of rural India. This is a testament to the government’s commitment to inclusive growth.
The finance minister’s acknowledgment of women’s advancements in education and STEM courses is met with appreciation. The surge in female enrolment in higher education by 28% and the impressive 43% representation in STEM courses reflect a positive trajectory. It showcases the resilience and potential of our women in diverse fields, contributing significantly to the workforce and the nation’s development.
Sitharaman highlighted the government’s initiatives such as making triple talaq illegal, the reservation of 1/3 seats for women in Parliament and state assemblies, and allocating over 70% houses under the PM Awas Yojana to women. These legislative and policy measures are crucial steps towards ensuring gender equality and enhancing the dignity of women.
The emphasis on cervical cancer vaccinations for girls aged 9-14 is a welcome move, as prioritizing preventive healthcare for young girls is a progressive step.
In the preceding fiscal year, Sitharaman had underscored the imperative of fostering economic empowerment for women in her budgetary address, charting a visionary course towards the evolution of SHGs into sustainable, income-generating producer organizations.
The 2023 budget had demonstrated a forward-thinking strategy by providing support for SHGs, encompassing the supply of raw materials and enhancements in design, quality, branding, and marketing, akin to the growth trajectory witnessed by successful startups evolving into unicorns.
As the chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), I am very happy to see government’s strategic initiatives and steadfast commitment to women’s economic empowerment. With the burgeoning participation of women in the workforce, the expectations were high for the interim budget to proactively address pivotal concerns faced by women.
Within the framework of the 2023 budget, Sitharaman introduced the ‘Mahila Samman Saving Certificate,’ featuring a fixed interest rate of 7.5% for two years, with a maximum deposit limit of ₹2 lakh and a partial withdrawal facility. This initiative sought to encourage savings and ensure financial security for women and girl children. With a deliberate focus on addressing the diverse needs of women across India , the budget aspired to promote gender parity and improve the lives of women in India.
Women are one of the four pillars that need prioritization in this budget. The other three being garib (poor), yuva (youth), and annadata (farmers). This reaffirmation accentuated the government’s dedication to addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by various segments of society, with a particular emphasis on the economic empowerment and well-being of women.
ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers who are the primary contact for village women in healthcare and childcare are doing amazing work as we have seen their hard work during Covid. It’s laudable that healthcare cover under Ayushman Bharat insurance scheme has been extended to all ASHA, and anganwadi workers in this budget.
The discernible positive trend observed in the female labour force participation rate, reaching 24% in Q2FY24, augurs well for a gender-inclusive economic growth. The comprehensive approach to women’s economic empowerment embedded in the interim budget is poised to reinforce this positive trajectory, creating an environment where women can substantively contribute to the nation’s developmental endeavours.
In conclusion, I commend the interim budget’s multifaceted approach towards women’s empowerment. It reflects a comprehensive vision, encompassing economic empowerment, education, healthcare, and legislative measures. It paves the way for a more inclusive and empowered society where women can thrive and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s progress.
Rekha Sharma is the chairperson of National Commission for Women
Livemint tops charts as the fastest growing news website in the world 🌏 Click here to know more.
Here’s your comprehensive 3-minute summary of all the things Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech: Click to download!
Published: 02 Feb 2024, 02:32 AM IST
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.