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Budget focuses less on women policy

Staff Correspondent: Speakers at a view exchange meeting said the proposed budget for the next fiscal year is not ‘gender sensitive’ as the budgetary allocation for women is not enough for implementing the Women Policy as well as the CEDAW.

They said allocations targeting women towards 12 ministries out of 20 have been increased while those for 8 ministries have been slashed, which means an average decline in the public spending for the women.

“It seems like giving in one hand and snatching it away from the other,” Salma Khan, former president, CEDAW Committee of the United Nations, said.

Steps Towards Development, a development organisation, arranged the meeting at national press club yesterday to analyse the gender sensitiveness of the proposed budget.

They stressed expansion of social safety net to bring more distressed women under its coverage, saying that providing allowance to 92,000 distressed women is not enough.

Salma Khan said it needs to create a congenial atmosphere to empower women through setting a level playing field for them. Gender sensitive budget doesn’t only mean financial aspects but it also includes social factors.

There are many women who are capable of entering the labour market but lack of policy support is barring them from doing so, and at the same time harming the national economy, discussants said.

Middle class and upper middle class women are getting benefit from SME allocation while thousands of marginal and real poor women are kept outside of its purview, they alleged.

They also suggested for inclusion of more women in the ICT education, in formulating women policy and also for CEDAW in the textbooks etc.

They, however, laid emphasis on proper implementation of existing projects and turning the implementing authorities into gender sensitive reap harvest from the limited allocations.

The gender experts are also skeptical about the proposed allocation of Tk 70 million only to evict begging from the society as a major portion of beggars are women.

Eminent economist Dr MM Akash, gender and development expert Kaniz Siddiqui, Bangladesh Bank director Hannana Begum and visiting professor of Brac University Dina Mehnaz Siddiqui, among others, spoke on the occasion.

Executive director of Steps Towards Bangladesh Ranjan Karmakar presented a gender analysis paper at the meeting.

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