The Union Budget for 2018-19 has lent a sharp focus to women and child issues and the overall budget of the WCD Ministry has been increased by Rs.2605 crores which is almost 12% higher than the previous year’s budget. The total budgetary provision for the WCD Ministry for the year 2018-19 is Rs.24700 crore.
2. The ICDS programme has been provided additional allocation of approximately Rs.1100 crores for the year 2018-19. The allocation for National Nutrition Mission has been doubled to Rs.3000 crores. The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana, which was launched in October, 2017 has been provided with an allocation of Rs.2400 crores for the year 2018-19. The allocation for the scheme for adolescent girls has been enhanced to Rs.500 crores. These increased allocations will provide necessary fillip to the efforts of the WCD Ministry to fight malnutrition.
3. The Budget 2018-19 has also doubled the allocation for the National Creche Scheme which facilitates the working women who can safely leave their children in care and protection of the crèche. Mahila Shakti Kendra is one of the ambitious projects of the Ministry and its allocation has been increased four- fold to Rs.267 crores. These Kendras, being established by the ministry, function as a One Stop Shop for women empowerment at the village level.
4. In order to provide a safety net for women, the allocation to the Swadhar Greh Scheme and Ujjawala scheme is Rs.95.00 crores and Rs.50.00 crores respectively. The allocation for Working Women’s Hostel Scheme has been raised to Rs.60 crore, showing an increase of 20% for the coming financial year. Budgetary provision for BBBP has been increased to Rs.280 crore as compare to Rs.200 crores last year, allocation for Women Helpline has been tripled and that for One Stop Centres increased to Rs.105.10 cr.
5. Rs.500 crores have been provided for transfer to the Nirbhaya fund from which various schemes of Central Government and State Governments are supported for safety and protection of women. The enhanced allocation will help in creating a safety net for women in difficult situations.
6. Protection of children has been an important area of focus in the Ministry. The allocation for this has been increased by 12% for the year 2018-19.
7. In his budget speech, the Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitely stated that the Government aims to provide 8 crores Ujjawala gas connections as against 5 crores provided so far. The Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana, which provides free electricity to rural households, has been given an ambitious target of 4 crores households which have direct impact on the living conditions of women and children. The Finance Minister further stated that the loans extended to Women Self-Help Groups are expected to increase to Rs.75000 crores by the end of 2018-19 from Rs.42500 crores at the end of the year 2017-18. The Government has also set a target of providing of 2 crores toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2018-19 which directly impact the safety of women and girls. In order to increase the take home wages of women, the contribution to EPF has been reduced from 10-12% to 8%. The Finance Minister further added that 76% of the Mudra Loans have gone to women micro-entrepreneurs and 1.26 crores girls have benefitted through the Sukanya Samridhi Yojana accounts.
7. Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development has stated that the increased allocations will help the Ministry to fight malnutrition and provide safety to women and girls through expansion of various ongoing schemes. She also thanked the Finance Minister for keeping a heightened focus on women issues in the budget 2018-19.