The Kerala Budget 2019 mainly focuses on rebuilding the state giving thrust to over 1,200 schemes as part of Rebuild Kerala Initiative.Women can cherish as the budget offers a few sops that will go a long way in shaping their future. It aims to uplift the lives of women in lower strata of society in stark contrast to the previous budget which centred more on working women.
This year, Rs 20 crore has been earmarked to make Kerala a hunger-free state and the agencies involved in this mission will be given subsidies. This will definitely help the women in the lower strata directly and indirectly as it will be beneficial for the so-called unskilled women labourers.
The budget has allocated Rs 1,420 crore for women empowerment. Major schemes announced include: Training 2,000 ladies in geriatric care; interest-free loans for women to open kiosks to sell fish; Rs 2 crore for renaissance and women empowerment; and Rs 1,000 crore for Kudumbashree Mission.
Promises like sustainable employment opportunities for 25,000 women with an income of Rs 400-Rs 600 through livelihood intervention, and bank loans worth Rs 3,500 crore with an interest rate of 4 per cent to 65,000 neighborhood groups will go a long way in empowering women.
The woman-friendly proposals will definitely act as a trigger to question the existing so-called “traditions” and social norms that confine women to certain hidden corners.Even though programmes like Kudumbashree provide opportunity for women to go out and work and earn an income, the real freedom is still a distant dream for many.
For instance, women still have limited freedom to spend the money they earn and almost no freedom of their mobility other than to workplace.The women can gain freedom only when they start questioning and act against the norms which confine them. Hence the programmes initiated by the budget will give them opportunities to act.
(Associate Professor, IIM- Kozhikode)