(Dalit History Month Special) Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan's Analysis on Scanty Funds for SC Women

Allocations for Dalit women in fiscal year 2019-20 amounted to just 0.46% of total eligible schemes, with a slight increase in later years. However, in fiscal year 2022-2023, these allocations decreased to 0.97%, indicating a worrying trend of reduced support for Dalit women's welfare.
Women protests against the flogging of Dalits in UNA district of Gujarat in 2016
Women protests against the flogging of Dalits in UNA district of Gujarat in 2016

New Delhi- Gender equality entails ensuring equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for both men and women, acknowledging their diverse needs and priorities. Gender-responsive budgeting plays a crucial role in achieving this equity by considering the distinct roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of each gender.

Despite various policies and programs aimed at bridging gender gaps, there remains a significant disparity between intended objectives and the actual situation for women.

The Gender Budget Statement (GBS) in the Union Budget comprises two parts: Part A includes schemes with a 100% allocation for women, while Part B includes schemes where at least 30% of the provision is allocated for women.

Specifically, the analysis delves into allocations for Dalit women in Statement 13 of the Gender Budget Statement and the Scheduled Caste Component in Statement 10A.

Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) in India relies primarily on the GBS to track budget allocations for women, reflecting the government's commitment to gender equality.

However, the GBS often overlooks intersectionalities such as caste and sexual identity, resulting in an incomplete picture of budget impacts.

Despite an increase in gender budget allocations over the past four years, they remain below 5% of the total budget, with a decline post-pandemic.

This trend of allocation, especially in the post-pandemic year, is very concerning considering the vulnerabilities faced by women during this period, including increased job losses, especially in the informal sector, increased dropout rates of girls from schools and colleges, increased cases of domestic abuse, and disruptions to reproductive and maternal health services.

This situation has been particularly grave for women from marginalized communities, especially Dalits. Women from the SC communities have faced increased violence and discrimination from dominant caste groups, with numerous cases reported in the media almost daily.

In 2022, over 57,000 instances of crimes targeting scheduled castes (SC) were reported, averaging around 158 cases per day. These incidents marked a notable surge of approximately 35% compared to figures from 2018, as per recent statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Allocations specifically for Dalit women, as highlighted in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE), have been consistently low, primarily falling under Part B of the GBS.

Over the last three financial years, there has been a lack of schemes exclusively benefiting Dalit women under MSJE, indicating a significant gap in addressing their development needs.

Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan's scrutiny of allocations for Dalit women across different government departments and ministries of the union unveils scanty funding under Part A of the GBS, with the bulk of resources allocated under Part B. When juxtaposed with allocations for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, this discrepancy accentuates the significantly low funding earmarked for Dalit women, comprising less than 1% of eligible schemes.

In the fiscal year 2019-20, allocations for Dalit women constituted only 0.46% of total eligible schemes, with a marginal increase in subsequent years.

However, in the fiscal year 2022-2023, allocations have declined to 0.97%, highlighting a concerning trend of diminishing support for Dalit women's welfare.

If we put it into numbers, we will find that the allocation for SC women in schemes in the year 2019-2022 was 4333.44 crores, which increased to 15116.20 crores in the financial year 2021-2022.

But it yet again decreased to 11958.95 crores in the year 2022-2023.

History of Gender Responsive Budgeting:

In India, the journey towards gender-responsive budgeting can be traced back to the 1974 report of the Committee on the Status of Women.

Subsequent efforts have led to the introduction of the Gender Budget Statement (GBS) within the Union Budget since 2005-06.

This statement quantifies the government's budget allocations for women, providing transparency regarding fund distribution across ministries to address gender-based discrimination.

While initially focused on traditionally perceived "women-related sectors," the GBS has expanded its scope to encompass other areas, with coverage increasing from 9 departments/ministries in 2005-06 to 34 in recent years.

Additionally, many state budgets have adopted similar methodologies.

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