Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for the financial year 2020-21 on Saturday and announced that the government was setting aside a total of Rs 28,600 crore for programmes specific to women.
In her speech, Nirmala focused on the education and nutrition aspects of women and children.
For FY 2020-21, a total of Rs 30,007.10 crore have been allocated for the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
In her speech, the Finance Minister emphasised on the nutritional needs of women and children, especially of children up to the age of six years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. The total budget proposed for the current financial year for the - National Nutrion Mission (including the ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project) is Rs 3700 crore. This is an increase of Rs 300 crore proposed in FY 2019-20.
The budget allocated for Anganwadi services has also increased this year. Last year, Rs 19,834.37 crore were set aside for anganwadi schemes, though around Rs 17,704.50 crore were actually spent. This year, the amount set aside for the same is Rs 20,532.38 crore.
As far as outlay for schemes under ‘Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women’ are concerned, Rs 1163 crore has been allocated this budget, a decrease compared to Rs 1330 crore in 2019-20. It is worth noting that only Rs 961cr of the total allocation last year was utilised.
Under the ‘Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women’, budget 2020-21 has increased the funding for one-stop centres to Rs 385 crore from Rs 274 crore allocated last year of which Rs 204 crore was spent. Women affected by any kind of violence in private or public spaces can go to one-stop centres to avail specialised services
However, the allocation is significantly less for ‘other schemes’ under the Nirbhaya Fund – from Rs 201.21 crore in 2019-20 to only Rs 80 crore for 2020-21.
When it came to education, Nirmala stated that the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme of the government had yielded “tremendous results”. The gross enrolment ratio of girls had crossed that of boys at all educational levels, she revealed. “At elementary level, it is 94.32 % as against 89.28% for boys. At Secondary level, it is 81.32 % as compared to 78 %, At higher secondary level girls have achieved a level of 59.70 % as compared to 57.54 % for boys,” Nirmala said.
However, in the current budget, the government has proposed Rs 220 crore for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme, compared to Rs 280 crore in FY 2019-20. Of the latter, the expenditure was Rs 200 crore last year.
The Finance Minister also announced that a task force was to look into various issues of women and girls’ education and health. “As India progresses further, opportunities open up for women to pursue higher education and careers. There are imperatives of lowering MMR (maternal mortality rate) as well as improvement of nutrition levels. Entire issue about age of a girl entering motherhood needs to be seen in this light. I propose to appoint a task force that will present its recommendations in six months’ time,” she said.
Nirmala also announced that a total of Rs 35,600 crore were being set aside for nutrition-related programs for FY 2020-21.