By asking State governments to furnish their performances in gender budgeting, the Centre aims at evaluating existing schemes for women
The Union government has initiated a stock-taking exercise of gender budgeting that was adopted as a tool to ensure gender mainstreaming at all levels of governance. The exercise has been started to ascertain the progress made at the end of the 11th Five-Year plan period which had laid a major emphasis on strict adherence to gender budgeting across the board.
The Women and Child Development Ministry has asked the State governments to apprise it of the actual progress made by them on gender budgeting, particularly on institutional and capacity building mechanisms initiated at the State level, and how this is reflected in the proved allocation for women/gender equality.
In a letter to the State governments, Union Women and Child Development Secretary Neela Gangadharan has asked for information regarding gender budgeting so as to enable the Ministry to compile the information at a later stage. “It would also do good if you could add best/innovative practices undertaken in your State for wider sharing,” Ms. Gangadharan stated while offering any support required to further the process of gender budgeting.
The Ministry has sought to know details like when was gender budgeting officially adopted by the State and how was it announced — in the budget speech or through an official order and the institutional mechanisms adopted in the State for gender budgeting.
Further, the Ministry has wanted to know whether there was any nodal ministry or cell for promoting gender budgeting and whether gender budget cells, gender desks or task force had been formed in the State; details on the formal or informal structure of these cells and action taken by them in the last two years.
Details of any budget analysis, studies, audit exercise, new scheme or initiative launched to promote gender budgeting have also been asked for.
The gender budgeting initiative is a policy framework to assist governments towards the integration of gender perspective into the national budget for public expenditure. It aims for women's development through allocation of budgetary funds for women's social, economic and personal growth.
Gender budgeting was introduced for the first time in 2004 with the Finance Ministry giving a mandate to all ministries to establish a Gender Budgeting Cell. By January, 2005, 18 ministries and departments were asked to submit annual reports and performance budgets highlighting budgetary allocations for women.
Women's groups in India have been demanding that the government should ensure adequate gender budgeting in all ministries and departments but in the absence of sex disaggregated data, evaluation of schemes through a gender perspective or any effort at strengthening gender dimensions poses a big challenge. The target of 30 per cent gender allocation under all ministries has also yet not been achieved.
There is also criticism that funds allocated for nutrition of children under the Integrated Child Development Scheme and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are also accounted for under the gender budgeting component though these schemes are gender neutral.