A sum of Rs 29,000 crore has been set aside for the Women and Child Development Ministry for 2019-20, a 17 per cent increase, with the social services sector getting a major boost in the Budget.
The total amount allocated for the social services sector, which includes nutrition, social security and welfare, was enhanced from Rs 2,551 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 4,178 crore in the 2019-20 fiscal.
The Centre's programmes of maternity benefit and Child Protection Services also got a major boost in the Budget.
The allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a maternity benefit programme, was more than doubled to Rs 2,500 crore from Rs 1,200 crore.
Under the programme, Rs 6,000 is given to pregnant women and lactating mothers for the birth of the first child.
The allocation for the Child Protection Services programme under the Integrated Child Development Services was increased to Rs 1,500 crore from Rs 925 crore.
A sum of Rs 29,164.90 crore has been earmarked for the WCD Ministry for this financial year, a 17 per cent increase over Rs 24,758.62 crore allocated to it last year. A major chunk of the sum, Rs 19,834.37 crore, is for anganwadi services.
Presenting the Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that in order to encourage women enterprise, the budget has a proposal to expand the Women Self Help groups interest subvention programme to all districts.
"Every verified woman SHG member having a Jan Dhan Bank Account will be allowed an overdraft of Rs 5,000. One woman in every SHG will also be eligible for a loan of up to Rs 1 lakh under the MUDRA scheme," she said.
WCD Minister Smriti Irani took to Twitter to praise the Budget, saying it will give further impetus to the mission of women-led development.
'I thank PM @narendramodi ji & FM @nsitharaman ji for proposing first ever broad-based committee to assess budgetary allocation from gender perspective and suggest way forward. It will give further impetus to our mission of women-led development,' she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' will get Rs 280 crore in the current financial year.
The National Nutrition Mission, which strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low-birth weight babies and aims to benefit 10 crore people across the country, was allocated Rs 3,400 crore.
The allocation for the Mahila Shakti Kendras has been increased from Rs 115 crore to Rs 150 crore.
The total allocation for the centrally sponsored schemes was Rs 28,914 crore, a boost of Rs 4,400 crore from the last fiscal.
The allocation for the National Creche Scheme was also enhanced from Rs 30 crore to Rs 50 crore, which will enable working women to safely leave their children in creches while they are away at work.
Similarly, the allocation for Working Women's Hostel scheme saw an increase of over three times from Rs 52 crore to Rs 165 crore.
The budget for Ujjawala, a scheme for prevention of trafficking, rescue and rehabilitation of women, has been increased from Rs 20 crore to Rs 30 crore.
Similarly, the budget for widows' homes was increased from Rs 8 crore to Rs 15 crore.
Effectively, the total budget under the Mission for Protection and Empowerment of Women was increased from Rs 1,148 crore to Rs 1,315 crore.
Reacting to the budgetary allocation for the WCD Ministry, child rights body CRY said the considerations of children, their rights and aspirations continue to 'languish in priority'.
"The total budget for children again witnessed an incremental increase of 0.05 per cent compared to last year, from 3.24 per cent to 3.29 per cent," it said in a statement.
Another child rights body Save the Children said the budget had brought some good initiatives like Jal Mantralaya, Swatchta Abhiyan, ODF India by 2019, with emphasis on tackling preventable diseases like diarrheal deaths of children under five and it was commendable.
"But underprivileged children need more robust designs, implementation and monitoring. However, reaching the last child will need adequate financing on education, health and protection," it said.
Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation said it a matter of concern that despite the 16 per cent increase in the allocation of funds for children in the current budget, the percentage of funds allocated for them works out to only 3.29, which is lower than the allocation for children in terms of percentage during 2016-17 and 2017-18 which was 3.32 per cent.
The foundation also urged the government to restore the budgetary cut imposed in the allocation for the 'national scheme for incentive to girl child for secondary education'.