The Union Budget of India serves as a crucial policy instrument for steering the nation’s economic trajectory and addressing pressing socio-economic challenges. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to prioritise gender equality and women’s empowerment within the budgetary framework. Suman Bery, a distinguished economist associated with NITI Aayog, has lauded the government’s focus on women in the budget, citing it as a sound basis for advancing gender equity and inclusive development. This article delves into Bery’s insights on the budget’s women-centric approach, examines political speeches endorsing gender-focused policies, and concludes with reflections on the significance of prioritising women’s empowerment in India’s policy landscape.

Suman Bery’s Perspective on Budget’s Women Focus:

As a leading voice in the realm of economic policy, Suman Bery brings a nuanced perspective to the discourse surrounding gender-sensitive budgeting. In his analysis of the Union Budget, Bery emphasises the importance of prioritising women’s empowerment as a strategic imperative for sustainable development. He contends that investing in women yields multifaceted dividends, ranging from enhanced human capital to greater social cohesion and economic resilience.

Bery commends the government’s efforts to mainstream gender considerations across various budgetary allocations, noting that initiatives aimed at empowering women resonate with broader objectives of poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and sustainable development. By earmarking resources for women-centric programs and interventions, the budget lays a solid foundation for addressing systemic inequalities and unlocking the full potential of half of India’s population.

Political Speeches Endorsing Gender-Focused Policies:

1. Finance Minister’s Budget Speech:

“In crafting this year’s budget, we have placed a special emphasis on empowering women and promoting gender equality. Recognizing the pivotal role of women in driving economic growth and social progress, we have allocated significant resources towards initiatives aimed at enhancing women’s access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. By investing in women, we invest in the future of our nation.”

2. Opposition Leader’s Remarks in Parliament:

“While we welcome the government’s focus on women in the budget, we must also acknowledge the need for more comprehensive and targeted interventions to address the root causes of gender inequality. The budget falls short in addressing critical issues such as women’s safety, access to justice, and political representation. We call upon the government to prioritise gender-responsive policies that leave no woman behind.”

Reflections on the Significance of Prioritising Women’s Empowerment:

The recognition of women’s empowerment as a linchpin of sustainable development represents a paradigm shift in India’s policy landscape. By mainstreaming gender considerations in budgetary planning and resource allocation, policymakers signal a commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable society where every individual can thrive and contribute meaningfully to nation-building.

However, the journey towards gender equity is fraught with challenges, and budgetary allocations alone cannot suffice. It is imperative for policymakers to adopt a holistic approach that addresses the structural barriers and systemic inequalities that impede women’s progress. This entails investing in education, healthcare, skill development, and social protection mechanisms that empower women to lead lives of dignity and agency.

 Suman Bery’s endorsement of the budget’s women focus underscores the importance of prioritising women’s empowerment as a strategic imperative for India’s socio-economic development. As India marches towards a more inclusive and equitable future, it is incumbent upon policymakers, civil society, and other stakeholders to redouble their efforts in advancing gender equality and ensuring that no woman is left behind. By harnessing the transformative power of gender-responsive policies, India can realise its full potential as a prosperous and progressive nation.