Budget 2022-23 has laid focus on women by acknowledging them as a key engine for future economic growth. The Union Finance Minister in her budget speech mentioned that “This Budget continues to provide impetus for growth. It lays a parallel track of (1) a blueprint for the Amrit Kaal, which is futuristic and inclusive. This will directly benefit our youth, women, farmers, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs). And (2) big public investment for modern infrastructure, readying for India at 100.”
India has recognized the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment in all aspects of our developmental agenda. The country is today fast moving from the paradigm of women’s development to women-led development while focusing on inclusive growth and deep reforms to bring about transformational changes. The Gender Budget 2022-23, part of the Union Budget, has provided opportunities to focus on addressing some of the issues faced by women and create opportunities for them for “inclusive development”, one of the priorities of the present budget and Amrit Kaal, the 25-year-long leadup to India@100.
India presented its 17th Gender Budget since 2005-06 to earmark schemes and/or spending for benefiting women for alleviating gender inequality. Overall, the gender budget has gone up in absolute numbers to INR 1,71,006.47 crores (2022-23 Budget Estimates1) i.e., ~4.3 per cent of the total budget from 2022-23 budget estimates. In absolute terms, the Gender Budget, which includes schemes for women across different Ministries, witnessed an increase of 11.5 per cent — rising from INR 1,53,326.28 crores (2021-22 Budget Estimates1). In the last 17 years, India's Gender Budget has witnessed an eleven-fold increase from INR 14,378.68 crores (2005-06 Budget Estimates2).
The Gender Budget consists of two parts—Part A i.e., spending for 100 per cent women-specific programmes and Part B i.e., spending on programmes where at least 30 per cent is for women.
Some of the major allocations under Part A of the Gender Budget have been on previously announced schemes such as Nirbhrya Fund, Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0, SAMARTYA and SAMBAL (part of Mission Shakti encompassing Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Creche, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana) etc. Major Part B allocations include Samagra Shiksha, Flexible Pool for Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) and Health System Strengthening, National Health Programme and National Urban Health Mission, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, to name a few.
Beyond this, some initiatives have an impact on the lives of women but are not part of the Gender Budget. For example, under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” scheme aims to provide household tap connections to all rural households, improving the quality of life for women, which is not part of the Gender Budget. Union Budget 2022-23 has also allocated INR 60,000 crores for the 'Har Ghar, Nal Se Jal' scheme to increase its coverage to 3.8 crore households during the financial year 2022-23.
The Gender Budget is expected to assist women to recover and grow through the generation of economic opportunities for them. Further, the Gender Budget in India continues to evolve in line with learnings and recommendations year-on-year, as a fiscal tool to bridge the prevalent gender divide.