1. Budget 2024: Here’s what to expect for women

Budget 2024: Here’s what to expect for women

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3 min read • Updated: January 31, 2024, 1:22 PM

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Summary

The ‘Mission Shakti’ initiative that was introduced for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26 may see an increase in allocation to fasten the pace of welfare initiatives for women as the programme nears its end.

Here’s what to expect for women in budget 2024.
Here’s what to expect for women in budget 2024.

In an election year, as the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Union Budget on February 1, there are high hopes of an effective gender centric approach.

Gender budgeting is essentially a strategy to achieve equality between women and men by focusing on how public resources are collected and spent.

When FM Nirmala Sitharaman would present the Interim Budget 2024 this week, the country would be looking out for the steps taken by the government to ensure that women are made equal stakeholders in India’s growth story.

Year after year, the Narendra Modi-led government has been increasing the amount allocated for schemes focused on women. The total gender budgeting amount was ₹2.23 lakh crore in the 2023-24 Budget, up 4.3% from the previous year and more than double of the allocation of around ₹1 lakh crore in 2013-14.

Going by the historic trend and the fact that the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed this year in both Houses of Parliament, it is expected that the government would renew its focus on women centric schemes in Budget 2024.

The ‘Mission Shakti’ initiative that was introduced for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26 may see an increase in allocation to fasten the pace of welfare initiatives for women as the programme nears its end.

To recall, the Ministry of Woman and Child Development had launched ‘Mission Shakti’ -- an integrated women empowerment programme as an umbrella scheme for the safety, security and empowerment of women -- during the 15th Finance Commission period.

The components of Mission Shakti have been designed in such a way that it takes care of the women’s needs on a life cycle continuum basis. Mission Shakti has two sub-schemes ‘Sambal’ and ‘Samarthya’. While the ‘Sambal’ sub-scheme is for safety and security of women, the ‘Samarthya’ sub-scheme is for empowerment of women.

Besides Mission Shakti, the finance minister is also likely to focus on the much-demanded skill development programme for young women. The Budget 2024 may introduce an initiative offering vocational programmes for women post-class 12.

Besides that, the government may also work towards making provisions under the Maternity Act 2017 viable for smaller companies by granting certain incentives. According to the Maternity Act, creche services and six months of paid maternity leave are mandatory for companies with over 50 employees. Offering these facilities seem difficult for smaller start-ups, leading to their reluctance to hire women, thereby limiting opportunities for female workers. The Budget 2024, therefore, may address these concerns to fulfil its purpose of increased women participation in its labour force.

Women entrepreneurs would also be watching out the interim Budget 2024 for relief measures like tax relaxations and a dedicated fund for women entrepreneurs.

Talking of women in rural India, it is expected that the finance minister may announce the doubling of payout under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme for women farmers.

News agency Reuters had earlier reported that the government is considering doubling annual payout to land-owning female farmers to ₹12,000 per person. Currently, the scheme provides an income support of ₹6,000 per year in three equal instalments to all land-holding farmer families.

In her maiden speech as the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman had said ‘Naari Tu Narayani’ is our country’s tradition. It would be interesting to see whether she would be able to walk the talk as she presents the last budget of the second-term of the Narendra Modi government.