The Union Budget, presented by Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal just days ago, has largely ignored women. However, this is the first time that the Women and Child Development ministry has separately allocated a set budget for Dalit and Adivasi women.

While the process of Gender budgeting was introduced in 2005-06 in the form of a Gender Budget Statement (GBS) that focuses on resources earmarked for women in a financial year, it is only now that WCD ministry allocated an autonomous amount for Dalit and Adivasi women.

“We don’t expect much but we need to unpack the figures to know what it really means for us because for instance a lot of the money allocated for implementation of the Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA) and Protection of Civil Rights Act (PCR) is used on building awareness instead of addressing the issue. We do understand that just an allocation can be a rhetoric, activist Beena Pallical of NCDHR told SheThePeople.TV.

Paul Diwakar, chairperson of Asia Dalit Rights Forum, added, “It is a progression taking place and a welcome move. Once the framework is established and if it is notional, we will hold them accountable as to how they should be spending the allocation. So I am glad that it has taken place as we have been pressurizing both gender budget scheme and all the support ministries. It is a statutory requirement, but now we have to make sure of the details in which they are using the money.”

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There’s an allocation of over Rs 700 crore for protection of cows while there is a paltry of Rs 147 cr for protection of Dalit and Adivasi women through the implementation of PCR and Prevention of Atrocities Act

However, talking about the expectations of Dalit women and how it panned out in the Union Budget, she said, “It is surprising because this is the Lok Sabha which has the largest number of women representatives, so we had expected a little more sensitivity towards women in general and then coming down and unpacking it further for Dalit and Adivasi women. It was a really bad budget, if you take just one indicator like violence. So there are over 30,000 cases against the Dalit and Adivasi community. Looking further, there are over 5,000 cases registered every year of violence against Dalit and Adivasi women. So what are we providing? Are we providing for safety of cows in this country or if there is some safety and security for women too?

There’s allocation of over Rs 700 crore for protection of cows while there is a paltry of Rs 147 cr for protection of Dalit and Adivasi women through the implementation of PCR and Prevention of Atrocities Act.”

In the analysis of the budget, the activists have consolidated a few recommendations which include allocation of special component for the Dalit women within the SCC and STC. Apart from this, Dalit women also want innovative schemes like Nirbhaya Fund for survivors of sexual assault and schemes for the socio-economic rehabilitation of the survivors of atrocities and their families.

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