Budget 2021: Women working in night-shifts to be offered adequate protection, says FM

At Budget 2021, FM Nirmala Sitharaman announced safety measures for women in night-shifts, and Rs 1,000 crore for tea workers, especially women and children.

In this year’s Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that for the first time, globally, social security benefits would extend to gig and platform workers.

“Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation. Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in the night-shifts with adequate protection. At the same time, compliance burden on employers will be reduced with single registration and licensing, and online returns,” she said.

On Monday, Sitharaman presented the Budget 2021 on the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken a huge toll on the economy.

Wearing a red Bengali lal paad saree and carrying a tablet instead of the customary bahi khaata, FM Sitharaman began her speech by lauding the government’s governance during these unprecedented times and reiterated the emphasis on ‘minimum government, maximum governance’.

“I want to confidently state that the government is fully prepared to support and facilitate the economic reset,” she said, as she quoted Rabindranath Tagore’s, “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”

Among the slew of measures the Finance Minister announced as part of the Budget, there were not too many that focused on women in particular, especially when they play an important role in the economic development of the country.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Sitharaman reminded the House that within 48 hours of declaring a three-week-long lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, valued at Rs 2.76 lakh crore which provided free food grain to 800 million people, free cooking gas for 80 million families for months, and cash directly to over 400 million farmers, women, elderly, the poor and the needy.

The inclusion of women specifically in this programme was a step in the right direction.

In the matter of financial inclusion, the FM said that to further facilitate credit flow under the scheme of Stand Up India for SCs, STs, and women, she proposed to reduce the margin money requirement from 25 percent to 15 percent, and to also include loans for activities allied to agriculture.

Sitharaman also added that the government proposes to provide Rs 1,000 crore for the welfare of tea workers especially women and their children in Assam and West Bengal. A special scheme will be devised for the same.

A highlight of this year’s budget is a new centrally sponsored scheme, PM Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, that be launched with an outlay of about Rs 64,180 crore over six years.

“This scheme will develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary care health systems, strengthen existing national institutions, and create new institutions, to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases. This will be in addition to the National Health Mission,” she added.

For YourStory's multimedia coverage of Budget 2021, visit YourStory's Budget 2021 page or budget.yourstory.com.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta