by Shubhra Rishi

Budget 2014 Expectations: What Women Want

Jul 07, 20143 mins
BudgetingBusinessEnergy Industry

Geetha Kannan, MD, India Operations, Anita Borg Institute, says the budget must take into account the need to empower women.

The Union Budget has generated high expectations from every section of the society. All research and apex industry bodies hope for a new era of economic and social welfare.

But one institute is focusing on what women in IT want from the budget this year.

“A separate fund allocation to create an ecosystem for women in IT so that they can explore entrepreneurship is extremely important. We envision a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies they build it for,” says Geetha Kannan, MD, India Operations, Anita Borg Institute (ABI).

The company is a social enterprise, which is working globally, and specifically in India, to increase the representation of women and girls in science and technology fields through conferences, training programs, and networking platforms. Through its various initiatives, ABI has constantly urged the government to enhance its activities with regard to education, training and empowerment of women.

According to a Charter for Gender Budget Cells, gender budgeting is one of the tools that can be used to promote women’s equality and empowerment. The concept is based on the modern idea that budgeting is not simply an accounting or bookkeeping exercise.

Rather, budgeting is a key part of the planning and implementation process and should follow policies rather than policies being determined by budgets.

According to Kannan, gender budgeting has brought the focus on empowering women, but the need to address the issues at the grassroot level is critical.

“Education is one of the ways to empower women. But to get girls to schools, we need basic infrastructure like toilets for girls and teachers. Hostels for girls and women should be encouraged,” she says.

The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) third Millennium Development Goal has underscored the need to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education in all levels of education by no later than 2015.

Kannan hopes that the new government will ensure that women empowerment will be one of its top priorities. The budget should look at policies that will make micro -credit systems and enterprise credit system available to women entrepreneurs at all levels. 

“Women entrepreneurs should be offered soft loans and subsidies with financial institutions providing more working capital assistance and the government should help organize training programs to develop professional competencies in technical, managerial, leadership, marketing, financial, production process and other skills,” says Kannan

ABI’s Expectations from the Union Budget

Build specific platforms to recognize women role models
Create a separate fund for girl education with specific milestones
Put emphasis on safety for women
Launch incubation centers for women to run businesses
Ensure supplier diversity, and create more markets for women run businesses
Allocate a separate fund to promote various the government schemes for women entrepreneurs