An autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance


Covid19 and Gender Budgeting: Applying a “gender lens” to Union Budget in India

Publication date

Dec, 2021


NIPFP Working Paper No. 362


Lekha Chakraborty


Gender budgeting is a public financial management (PFM) tool for transparency and accountability. Against the backdrop of covid-19 pandemic, this paper analyses the Union Budget 2021-22 through a “gender lens” to understand the intensity of gender in the budgetary allocations. The analysis of specifically targeted programmes for women and the intrinsic gender components in the mainstream spending revealed that the gen-der budgeting hovered around only 5 per cent of total budget. The sectoral analysis re-vealed that higher budgetary allocations per se do not ensure higher spending. The analy-sis of fiscal marksmanship – the deviation between what is budgeted and what is actual – revealed significant fiscal slippages in various sectoral spending. The economic stimulus package in India has given significance to gender budgeting in energy infrastructure and increased allocation on gender budgeting in a prima facie gender neutral ministry like Petroleum is welcome. However, the framework of gender budgeting as a PFM tool can be explored further to ensure sustainable gender equality outcomes, when economic stimulus packages are short run and there is fiscal normalization procedure. Given the accommodative fiscal stance in times of pandemic, reflected in the flexibility of deficit thresholds, prioritization of spending on gender budgeting can lessen widening inequalities. 

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