Excerpts from “Monitoring the Progress of Sustainable Development Goals in Gujarat: Situation Analysis for Selected Targets from SDG3 and SDG5″, published by Sahaj, Vadodara:
The status of women in Gujarat in comparison to some other states with lower Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) than Gujarat shows that it is worse off on many indicators. A study comparing the foreign direct investments and women’s status indicators in Kerala and Gujarat shows that the indicators for women’s status in Kerala, despite the lower FDI and per capita net State Domestic Product, are better than those for Gujarat. Female literacy and women’s education beyond 10 years, their employment percentage, in Gujarat are all much lower than in Kerala, as is decision making by women.
The Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) was established to achieve the goals and objectives set for social sector development focusing women and children. The department through policies, institutions, schemes and programmes addresses concerns of women and children in the State of Gujarat. The major activities, entrusted to the DWCD in the State relate to welfare programme activities for women and children including food supplementation; women’s empowerment; women’s self-help groups; the State’s Women Commission, Gender Resource Center (GRC) and Gujarat Women’s Economic Development Corporation’s activities and enforcement of laws such as the prevention of dowry and the prevention of immoral traffic act.
One flagship programme of the Government of Gujarat is the Mission Mangalam with selfhelp groups across the state. Gujarat Livelihood Promotion Company (GLPC) is the implementation agency for National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). It has an integrated poverty alleviation approach and creates a single resource platform for stakeholders like Banks, Industry Partners, Micro Finance Institutes and Skill Imparting Institutions, etc. to deliver desired outcomes.
It is reported that about 24 lakh women who are currently active under 2 lakh Sakhi Mandals / Self Help Groups (SHGs) are managing funds to the tune of Rs.1000 crores through bank linkages.. The audit report available on the website for 2013- 14 however shows huge unspent balances. The 2013 audit report of for NRLM, the umbrella under which Mission Mangalam is running, shows an opening grant of Rs. 303, 866,333, and a year-end unspent amount of Rs. 307,708,046, indicating huge under expenditures.
Of all the activities undertaken, the GRC plays a powerful role in supporting the gender equality agenda in the state. The Women’s Support Cells in police stations is one such commendable measure undertaken. However, the GRC’s potential can be further augmented if its structure includes representatives of the women’s movement and women’s organisations, if it does research in collaboration with feminist activists, researchers and academicians and publishes the research or makes it public so that women’s organisations could base their programmes on the findings.
However, less than 2 percent of the state’s total budget is spent for activities of DWCD, which has the primary responsibility of empowerment of women. A disaggregated analysis of budgetary allocations reveals that more than 90 percent is actually spent on integrated child development scheme (ICDS) and less than 10 percent for addressing issues of social security and welfare including violence against women.
Moreover, the budgetary allocation has been decreasing over the last four years. Out of the total outlay for social security and welfare of women, most of it goes for widows’ pension, very little is left for increasing women’s safety and for addressing violence against women. The state’s total budget outlay for 2018-19 is Rs.183,666 crores. Out of this the total budgetary outlay for the women’s welfare, social security, empowerment, economic development is Rs. 62,303 crores, which includes schemes in categories A and B, which benefit both women and men. Only Rs. 4,568 crores are allotted for women specific schemes which in percentage terms are 2.48 percent.
An analysis of the gender budget shows that the probable expenditure for violence against women for 2017-18 was Rs. 54.42 crores and the proposed provision for 2018-19 is Rs. 48.73 crores, a reduction of over Rs. 6 crores. This budget outlay for violence against women (VAW) of Rs. 48.73 crores is only 1.06 percent of the women specific gender responsive budget of Rs. 4568 crores reflecting the low priority given to address the women vulnerabilities in the present patriarchal social structure.
In conclusion, the budget for addressing the women’s issues like domestic violence, social protection, assistance in case of rape, and empowerment get very little financial outlay, the larger share of budget outlay is earmarked for providing pension to widows, who fulfil certain economic conditions, the contemporary issued being faced by women like justice, rehabilitation to the victims of domestic violence have not properly looked into, the budget outlay is meagre, not shown under separate budget head like other states.
In view of women’s vulnerabilities and challenges they face, the policy environment in Gujarat needs to change and the inequities need to be addressed. Budgets have to be increased and spent appropriately. The Gender Resource Centre and Women’s Studies Centres need to be supported by the state government to spearhead a radical programme for bringing about gender equity at diverse spheres and levels in the state.
As concluded by Saxena et al, “Gujarat has experienced rapid growth and is one of the wealthiest states in India and is also showing improvement in overall health status. However, improvements in the health of the general population do not lead to the removal of disadvantage in society. To achieve the desired targets under MDG in an equitable manner, there is an urgent need to review the existing policies implemented by the state to reduce such health inequalities. Furthermore, the State of Gujarat should also design systems to monitor equity. Greater attention needs to be directed towards the assessment of health deprivation among the poor.”
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