The pink paper initiative of Economic Survey 2018 got bleached by Finance Ministry’s all-male Budget team. There is no point in committing ‘to further the cause of women empowerment’ if you cannot find one woman for the Union Budget team.

We got Manelled again

When the Chief Economic Advisor flashed that pink report to us, our hopes suddenly went through the roof. Finally, we were looking forward to a budget which would be inclined towards improving the living status of women in our country. We began to dream of a budget which understood the plight of women in our country. A revolutionary budget that would further government’s strong stand on women empowerment. Then Mr Jaitley walked in with his team of suited gents today, and all hopes of equal representation in planning for next fiscal year were run over by his manel.

Why was it important to have equal gender representation?

This is the last full Union Budget for the ruling government, and the entire build up to this budget has been to focus on the state of women of this country. Be it the Prime Minister’s first Mann Ki Baat for the year, or the pink-ification of the survey and the official website.

To put to use, what they had been endorsing, would have been to have female representatives in the team. The entire country watched the unveiling of the Economic Survey. We were rooting for women empowerment just three days ago, and today we can’t spot a woman in Jaitley’s entourage.

The budget might be good, but what about setting up an example for the countrymen?

We are still to analyse the budget, and what it means for women. Maybe the government will deliver on its commitment. Yes, I agree that any economist should find a seat on the team purely based on proficiency. But the question here is visual and intellectual representation, which will be watched in and outside the country.

To merely demand a place in the team, on basis of gender is not fair. But we are not short of talented female economists, are we?

The equal representation and empowerment of women won’t come from using a pink paper. It will come from active initiatives, like making a conscious effort to end gender disparity in national panels, committees, teams, etc. The Union budget was a perfect chance. Hopefully, some introspection will lead to better planning in the execution of commitments made on national television.

Also Read : Is Using Pink Paper for Economic Survey 2018 a mere Tokenism?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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