KOCHI: The Kerala state budget 2018-19 announced the allocation of Rs 1,267 crore (13.6 pc of the total budget) for the welfare schemes for women. The difference between the amount allocated exclusively for women last year and the amount allocated this year is almost nil – the Kerala Budget 2017 had set aside Rs 1,266 crore for women, including over 64 schemes.
Even though the amount of allocation is not appealing, this budget has some positive aspects which will act as a stepping stone for the transition of women towards empowerment.
For instance Rs 25 crore for setting up women’s hostels and short-stay homes in all 14 districts is a welcoming move. One of the main constraints working women face is the lack of support system for her mobility especially while travelling overnight which required stay facility.
This difficulty to a certain extent will reduce by having short stay homes and women’s hostels. Construction of public toilets for women across the state will help women travel without much difficulty.
Other welcome features of this budget are social security schemes like assistance to panchayats which envisage women-friendly schemes and allocation of `50 crore for women safety programs. But these programmes will make a difference only if the government is able to guarantee safety as violence against women is still persisting on a high scale both in private and public spaces.
Equal attention must now be paid to better implementation of laws and safety measures. Moreover the government should allocate more funds to small female entrepreneurs for innovation, scaling up, and startups, along with Kudumbashree.
For instance, the government support in helping women entrepreneures through Kudumbashree chicken farming is commendable. These kind of measures through effective implementation will definitely guarantee that women are empowered and face lesser gender disparity and can be showcased to other states as “Kerala Model of Women Liberation”.