Budget 2024: ‘Nari Shakti’ takes center stage as citizens express their hopes

As the countdown to Union Finance Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2024 speech ticks away, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Droupadi Murmu have set the stage for the upcoming Budget session, emphasizing that ‘Nari Shakti’ (women’s empowerment) will be the primary focus.

As the countdown to Union Finance Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2024 speech ticks away, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Droupadi Murmu have set the stage for the upcoming Budget session, emphasizing that ‘Nari Shakti’ (women’s empowerment) will be the primary focus. With women constituting 48.04% of India’s total population as of January 2022, according to World Bank data, CNBC-TV18 conducted its Budget Ballot initiative to gauge the aspirations of citizens.

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Thousands of suggestions poured in through ballot boxes placed at various locations across cities, revealing a common desire among women to achieve financial independence. Despite existing government schemes like PM Jan Dhan Yojana and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, the road to women’s empowerment remains a journey. Suggestions from participants included creating a provision for single mothers to avail income tax benefits, introducing ‘Women Run Family’ (WRF), and offering additional tax benefits for women with over 15 years of work experience.

Other recommendations encompass joint tax filing for married couples, healthcare benefits for divorced women, and direct access to financial support for women entrepreneurs. The wishlist mirrors the aspirations of women actively contributing to India’s labor force, which has seen a significant rise in the female labor force participation rate, reaching 37% in 2022–23.

For those not yet part of the labor force, suggestions included recognizing homemaking as a profession and allocating a percentage of family income to housewives as ‘self-income.’ With President Droupadi Murmu lauding legislative achievements for women’s empowerment, the anticipation is high for FM Sitharaman’s Budget 2024 to align with the optimism resonating among Indian citizens.