BENGALURU: Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa presented a women’s special budget on International Women’s Day, with a slew of announcements and allocations for their empowerment and safety. Interestingly, the CM began his budget speech by announcing a total grant of Rs 37,188 crore for women-centric programmes.
The CM focused on programmes to assist working women and encourage entrepreneurship. From brick-and-mortar and e-markets for products made by women entrepreneurs, the budget focused on not just health care, wellness and service sectors, but has announced assistance for women entrepreneurs manufacturing papads, pickles, roti, and spices, among others.
Support will be provided for 6,000 micro-enterprises under Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department to generate employment for 60,000 women. Branding and online marketing assistance for such enterprises will also be given to women. “Women setting up businesses in the services sector can get up to Rs 2 crore loan at 4 per cent interest from the Women’s Development Corporation or Karnataka State Finance Corporation.
To help expand the market, products of women entrepreneurs will be exhibited for a week at the half-yearly marketing fairs in major cities like Bengaluru, Belagavi, Mysuru and Kalaburagi,” he announced.Also, to encourage women with licences obtained from APMCs, they will be given 10 per cent reservation in allotment of sites and godowns, in the APMC yards.
Women activists give thumbs-up to state budget
For the concessional bus passes for garment factory workers, Rs 30 crore has been allocated. “Also, 7,500 CCTV cameras will be installed in Bengaluru. Tech-based e-beat will be implemented during the night to ensure women’s safety,” the CM said. Anganwadis in all the metropolitan regions, including Bengaluru, will be upgraded to creches in a phased manner for the benefit of urban working women and all government offices, even in villages, will have one child care centre.
For women and child development, Rs 4,531 crore has been allocated, as against Rs 4,650 crore in the last budget. Agreeing that the budget seems proactive and woman/child friendly, women activists and public health experts said, “It would be great if it doesn’t just remain on paper, but is implemented and monitored/evaluated by community representatives.It should be inclusive of vulnerable communities like Dalit, Adivasis, Devadasis, transwomen, single women, etc., as they often get left out,” pointed out Dr Sylvia Karpagam, public health doctor and researcher.
Expressing unhappiness that the government failed to announce a separate package to identify families that have become extremely vulnerable due to the pandemic, Dr Sylvia added that “funds should have been set aside to identify these families and help bring them out of the crisis. This includes nutrition, education, livelihood, housing and health care.”
"The contribution of women to India's economy is critical, and micro-entrepreneurship is one of the shortest paths to making it possible. Producer groups and self-help groups make it possible for women-entrepreneurs to collaborate better, mobilize faster, access better social and health security, and most importantly, access working capital financing. The Karnataka budget does a great job of acknowledging the possibilities and furthering this narrative. We've observed first-hand on the ground the entrepreneurial capabilities of women who receive access to capital and opportunities to learn. Our efforts to develop women entrepreneurs in sanitization and hygiene, beauty and wellness, and apparel manufacturing specifically have seen great results overall. We have successfully enabled over 1000 women entrepreneurs who are making an ave of 2-4 lacs per annum. Our endeavor is to move them to 6-1o lacs per annum income slab," said Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan, Chairperson at LabourNet Services India Pvt. Ltd.
Meanwhile, Asha Devi, a feminist writer said, "while the plans sound good on paper, if schemes fall in the hands of bureaucrats then everything is just a proposal. Details of how and where the allocated money is spent need to be looked into. Also, the government should have spent some money on gender sensitisation too," she said.