GIS – 10 June, 2020: Budget 2020-2021 will steer the country in the right direction towards bringing hope and salvation to our people during the Post-Covid challenging time and ensure that our current difficulties will be faced with vigour and resilience.
The Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah, made this statement, yesterday afternoon, in the National Assembly, during her intervention on debates on the National Budget 2020-2021.
The Minister highlighted the damaging consequences that the Covid-19 pandemic had globally, that is, the deaths of thousands of people and the negative impacts on the socioeconomic front.
She lauded the proactive and bold measures of the Government to provide assistance to those who have been most affected by the pandemic, namely, the monthly Rs 5,100 allowance to the unemployed for the next six months; measures to promote agricultural activities and protect local farmers and the Rs 15,000 bonus given to frontliners.
Budget 2020-2021, she said, highlights Government’s will to invest intelligently in human capital for the socio-economic reconstruction of the country and integrate gender in its development planning. Women constitute a significant part of the country’s human capital , hence, my Ministry is determined to provide them with the necessary opportunities to develop their potentials to contribute to the economic progress of the country, added the Minister.
On that note, she dwelt on a series of projects in the pipeline, all geared towards this aim, namely :a revised National Gender Policy; hosting an “Assise de L’Entreprenariat Féminin”; implementing the “ Atelier des Mé tiers” project; provisions for all-inclusive infrastructures namely at the levels of Community Centers, Women Empowerment Centers, Social Welfare Centers, across the country ; setting up a Virtual Learning and Dialogue Forum ; and explore market opportunities that the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
Moreover, Minister Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah expressed satisfaction as regards the budgetary provision of Rs 200 million for loans to women entrepreneurs at a concessional rate of 0.5 percent per annum, which she emphasised will help stimulate economic empowerment and entrepreneurship of women. This measure will, undoubtedly, enable many existing women entrepreneurs to adopt innovative ways and means to develop and maintain their businesses, she added.
Speaking about Gender Based Violence, the Minister indicated that her Ministry is committed to provide the optimum support and protection to victims and has offered its services during the Covid-19 curfew, with 349 cases addressed from 20 March to 13 May 2020. She indicated that the Ministry has elaborated key projects in order to scale up efforts to address this social scourge, including the setting up of an Observatory on Gender Based Violence with the support of the UNDP to strengthen the data capture, launching of the “Accompagnement des Familles” Programme , the launching of the InterFaith Forum, and the setting up of a government-owned shelter.
Furthermore, Mrs. Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah underlined her Ministry’s priority as regards protecting the Rights of children and catering for their needs and welfare.
Key projects supported by the budgetary provisions to enhance children’s’ well-being include: Introduction of a new Children’s Bill ; financing facilities to households for acquisition of IT equipment for educational purpose through the DBM as well as the distribution of some 2,570 tablets to students of Grades 10 to 13 for families in the existing SRM; provision of free broadband internet facilities to an additional 5,000 families under the existing SRM including 2,000 families in Rodrigues; and the setting-up of Child Protection Services in the Districts of Grand-Port, Moka, Pamplemousses and Plaine-Wilhems.
Additionally, Budget 2020-2021 makes provisions for further investments in infrastructure at a boys’ shelter in Cap Malheureux and converting the Notre Dame Women Empowerment Centre into a relay shelter for girls; licensing the RCIs as Places of Safety (POS) to ensure the high quality of care across the system and implementation of “Support to Child Day Care Centres Scheme” for which Rs 6M has been earmarked.