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Roti-Kapda-Makaan moment for Indian women

Roti-Kapda-Makaan moment for Indian women
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Highlights

Healthcare has often been the orphan child of Indian fiscal budgetary reform and as the adage goes, has been too often out of sights and out of minds. Budget FY19is a reassuring departure from these norms. 

Healthcare has often been the orphan child of Indian fiscal budgetary reform and as the adage goes, has been too often out of sights and out of minds. Budget FY19is a reassuring departure from these norms.

And, if the proposed Ayushman Bharat program heralds the true start of Universal Health Coverage in our country and is truly inclusive, both in its intent and execution, I’m convinced it will benefit women, especially in the lower strata of our society. They have suffered silently for a long time, since their health was neither a priority for the “men of the house”, nor was it their own.

Now their health won’t be considered a “financial burden” and quality healthcare will reach the grassroot levels, albeit the government stays committed not just to commencing but sustaining; that includes assuring funds provided for smooth implementation of this programme.

Yes, the devil might still be in details like who is covered, what is covered and for how much; but even at a potential touchpoint of 40% of the nation’s population and a coverage of INR 5 lakhs per family for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation, the plan sets a global benchmark in terms of size and scope.

As a women’s health advocate both by heart and profession, I applaud this step taken by our government and would urge them to ensure it is well executed and sustained beyond the hassles of bureaucracy.

Now coming to other key aspect of Union Budget 2018, that caught my eye and at least “on-paper” establishes that our Prime Minister and Finance Minister are aiming to create an eco-system that encourages women to collaborate and start farming business, thereby be financially independent.

The key enabler for this will be the Finance Minister announcement to increase loans to Self Help Groups (SHGs) of women by as much as 37%. This should help towards women’s independence and standing in the society. Another positive declaration was the intent to increase free gas connection for women under the Ujjwala Yojna to 8 crores.

Combined; these two reforms may well be the “Roti, Kapda, Makaan” moment for Indian women. Now, the last of key women friendly announcements made was probably the only expected change. This year the contribution from women employees towards EPF has been reduced to 8 percent from existing 12 for first three years of employment. This will boost women’s participation in corporate sector jobs.

By: Anika Parashar
The writer is COO,Fortis La Femme, New Delhi

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