The Government of India presented the Union Budget 2015-16 on 28 February 2015. Part of an annual series, UN Women organized a panel discussion on 2 March 2015, bringing together eminent economists, political representatives and policy makers to analyze the budget from a gender lens. This year’s budget assumed special significance given that it was the first full-year budget presented by the new government.
The budget missed the big picture on women’s rights and gender equality, according to activists present at the discussion. Analysts noted that allocations to the Ministry of Women and Child Development had been reduced and several important schemes for women had been withdrawn.
Spokespersons from three key political parties, how ever, acknowledged that issues of gender equality were important. They emphasized the need to put political differences aside and work towards devolution of resources to states, simplified on-ground implementation of funds, and the need to address violence against women.
UN Women Representative Rebecca Tavares spoke of the need to “strengthen our efforts to ensure that we eradicate both poverty and gender inequality by 2030”. There is ample evidence to show that greater gender equality contributes to economic efficiency and the achievement of other key development outcomes, she added. She also commended the pre-Budget consultations organised by the Ministry of Finance, “which offer an important opportunity to a wide range of stakeholders to make their voices heard”.
UN Women India MCO also organized a HeForShe signature drive during the event, which received an enthusiastic response!