Gender Budgeting in India


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Gender Budgeting is a powerful tool for achieving gender mainstreaming so as to ensure that benefits of development reach women as much as men. It is not an accounting exercise but an ongoing process of keeping a gender perspective in policy/ programme formulation, its implementation and review. Gender Budgeting entails dissection of the Government budgets to establish its gender differential impacts and to ensure that gender commitments are translated in to budgetary commitments.

The rationale for gender budgeting arises from recognition of the fact that national budgets impact men and women differently through the pattern of resource allocation. Women, constitute 48% of India’s population, but they lag behind men on many social indicators like health, education, economic opportunities, etc. Hence, they warrant special attention due to their vulnerability and lack of access to resources. The way Government budgets allocate resources, has the potential to transform these gender inequalities. In view of this, Gender Budgeting, as a tool for achieving gender mainstreaming, has been propagated.
 
Gender budgeting stress reprioritization rather than an increase in overall public expenditure and in particular, the reorientation o f programmes within sectors rather than changcs in the overall amounts allocated to particular scctors2. Moreover, one o f the key thrusts o f a gender-sensitive budget is to ensure a greater visibility o f the care economy'' in fiscal policy measures and its inclusion in a system o f satellite accounts into the National Accounts System. In other words, gender budgeting manifests a conspicuous gender lens to budgetary resource allocation; with a greater visibility o f w om en’s unpaid work and its inclusion in a system of satellite accounts into the National Accounts System.
 
What Gender Budgeting is Not
-  a separate budget
-  about spending the same on women and men;
-   just about assessing programmes targeted specifically at women and girls. 
- confined to budgets alone. It covers analyzing various economic policies from the gender perspective.
 
Rationale for Gender Budgeting

Existing gender-neutrality of macro indicators ignores the feedback mechanism between gender-relations and macroeconomic policy. The assumption of labour force exogeneity in the treatment o f the care economy in the prevalent macroeconomic policy making is dubious. Integrating gender perspective into macroeconomic policy has dual dimensions: an equality dimension and an efficiency dimension. In the context of growing recognition that problems of inequality can not be resolved by the trickle down effects o f macroeconomic policies, the concept  of gender-inequality needs to be built in to the macroeconomic policy framework.

Apart from the basic principle of promoting equality among citizens, gender equality can benefit the economy through efficiency gains. From the efficiency consideration, what is important is the social rate of return of investment in women, and in eases, this can be greater than the corresponding rate for men. There is a growing awareness that gender inequality is inefficient and costly to development. Empirical literature draws attention to these efficiency dimensions of integrating gender perspective into macroeconomic policies. for example, the striking go o d m other thesis noted that women tend to have a higher marginal propensity to spend than men on goods that enhance the capabilities o f children. These empirical evidences suggested that the likelihood o f children being enrolled in school goes up with their m other’s educational level, and m other’s extra income has m ore positive impact on household investments in nutrition, health and education o f children than extra income accruing to fathers. Also, literature on gender inequality in labour markets shows that eliminating gender discrimination in occupation and wages could increase not only  women’s income, but also national income.

Men and women frequently have different priorities for budgetary policies and are affected differently by most o f these policies due to the gender differentials in the constraints, options, incentives and needs. Men and women face different constraints, assume different socially determined responsibilities and consequently make different social preferences. Legacies of adverse intra-household gender relations inhibit women from playing their rightful role, contributing to the economy, and getting their due share of the economic benefits in many countries, particularly developing ones. Women therefore are affected by and respond to the budgetary policies differently from men. Disaggregation by gender is vital because there arc systemic differences between men and women in relation to the economy.

 The existing gender-neutral budgets ignore the gender specific impacts of budgetary policies. Generally, budgeting involves four components: (i) the budgetary allocation o f resources to various heads, (ii) the actual Government outlays on various heads, (iii) an accounting o f how resources are utilised for a particular purpose (e.g. on administrative overheads and wages and salaries, operation and maintenance, etc.). and (iv) an evaluation o f the effectiveness o f the resources utilised in delivering the intended results. Gender budgeting involves looking at all the four components from the point of view of women as beneficiaries. While many public goods and services like defense arc not amenable to gender partitioning, many others have differential impact on the two sexes. For example, outlays for augmenting the supply o f safe drinking water can benefit women more than men by cutting down on the time spent in fetching water from the river or ponds. The existing practice o f budgeting docs not pay any special attention to the impact o f budgets on women.
 
Gender Budgeting was introduced in India by the government in 2005-06 in order to ensure that policy commitments are backed by financial outlays and that the gender perspective is incorporated in all stages of a policy or a programme. The objectives of Gender Budgeting are for committing to initiatives with the objective of influencing and effecting a change in the Ministries’ policies, programmes in a way that could tackle gender imbalances, promote gender equality and development and ensure that public resources through the Ministries’ budgets are allocated and managed accordingly. 


Sunday, 27th Mar 2016, 01:33:14 AM

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