The country is going through some really challenging times and the current restrictive environment has left the economy into distress again.
At the micro-level, women were the first to face the brunt of the economic slowdown. The priority of the upcoming budget should obviously be to restore the economy and to restore the livelihoods of the people affected by the pandemic.
Even as we eagerly await the green shoots of socio-economic recovery, it is important to note that the pandemic has altered in significant ways women’s lives and their livelihoods and the nature of their work and ways of working.
To move steadfast on the road to recovery, it is vital that the budget addresses women’s distinct economic roles, recognises their contributions and constraints and takes this opportunity to put them at the centre of investment.
This budget needs to focus on both long term and short-term and direct and indirect measures to ensure the safety, well-being, education, and employment of women.
It would be great to see the upcoming budget focus on allocating more funding to women-led businesses and there should be tax benefits, incentives and freebies for women entrepreneurs.
It should be founded on the premise that rebuilding the economy will not be possible without prioritising women’s economic recovery and well-being.
The allocations to women’s schemes as a share of the total budget should be enhanced and we would like to see a focus on women entrepreneurs having more scope to flourish and benefitting equally from India’s economic growth.
We are also expecting some relief and special measures to be taken by our government to help the woman-led startup to grow financially.
The budget should look at simplifying business operations, reducing the compliance burden to encourage more women to get into the startup ecosystem.
The government should further enhance the ecosystem by formulating policies, which act as an enabler to support women in their entrepreneurial journey and to boost their spirit of excellence.
Also Read: Businesses owned by women entrepreneurs likely to grow up to 90% in next 5 years in India: Study
A lot of women have started small businesses during the pandemic to support the family, and there should be a proper way to help them set up a business model and guide them in financial matters.
Educating them on matters related to tax and helping them ease the process will help.
Having additional provisions like access to business loans at a competent rate of interest, easy access to funding and special investment schemes for companies solely founded and managed by women founders will go a long way in creating gender diversity in the ecosystem.
As far as the event industry is concerned, it is trying to get the due recognition that it deserves to stay afloat in these testing times. Getting industry status is absolutely important for us to stay afloat and excel going forward.
Tax concessions remain the primary expectation for working women across the country. One way is to offer women special additional Section 80C benefit which will also encourage them to save.
The other option is to offer women a higher standard deduction facility so that the lower taxes can give them a spending power boost.
Government expenditure on up-skilling and reskilling of women also needs to be increased to keep women in the workforce and bring back those who have left.
There should be measures on aspects such as hygiene, sanitation, girl child education, safety for women, equal opportunities for women amongst others.
As the entire country prepares for the upcoming budget, a focus on growth-oriented measures, economic reforms, and inclusive growth will be critical to bringing the covid-battered economy back on track.
The government needs to encourage entrepreneurship because it is one of the best ways for job generation and progress economically.
We also hope it is consumption-friendly, leaving more money in the hands of people to catalyse demand in the economy.
We are also keen to see what other fiscal policies the government will introduce to stimulate credit growth and give the overall economy the much-needed onward push.
Overall to unleash their potential, we hope to see strong measures to support women’s workforce participation, savings schemes and progressive employment and tax policies that ensure women can weather future economic disruptions.
The government should give due acknowledgement and assured support to women-led initiatives which will be crucial to levelling the playing field for women entrepreneurs, thus facilitating the role of women in India’s growth story.
This will help reap an equitable gender dividend which is the only way for India to guarantee peace, prosperity, and the well-being of its citizens.
(The author is Co-owner, Dreamz Production House.)