India Budget 2017: What to expect?

The big day has dawned. Probably one of the most anticipated budgets of recent times, let’s look at what we can expect in the field of Women’s empowerment and the job scenario in general.

The 2016 budget saw a good trend towards bringing gender equality by re orienting and prioritising the resources for women.  However, the 2016-17 only a marginal increase in the funds allocated towards women since last year from Rs. 17,352 Crores to Rs. 17, 408 Crores. While there has already been an announcement from the PM on the 31st Dec, 2016 about a nationwide scheme for pregnant women, we look forward to more in terms of assistance to working women. Last year was a disappointment in this regard, as the government had not launched any initiative to skill women.

This year, we expect the National Career Service will focus on Women. As part of a Gender Responsive Budgeting, the Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP) is expected to receive a significant budget allocation that will help include more women under its purview. Also, the Priyadarshini Yojana, that supports women entrepreneurs which was discontinued last year, is expected to be relaunched.

This historic budget should look at the sectors that can immediately push job creation, as that is the major concern today. The focus should be to increase women’s labour workforce participation as it will help increase the employment rate and provide high growth for the economy. As the women entrepreneurs are also on the rise, a strong support in this budget towards the same would be essential.

Single women constitute 21% of India’s female population. A strong support system is the need of the hour for Single women. In the recent amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, the government has mandated every company, that has more than 50 women employees, to have a crèche facility. It would be ideal to incentivise employers with strong sops for setting it up.

Overall, this budget needs to have strong initiatives that will enable women to not only enter the workforce, but also sustain their contributions to the GDP of India.