Experts anticipate incentives for maternity leave benefits, an emphasis on skill training for young women, tax relaxations for women entrepreneurs and increased paid holidays for working mothers in the upcoming interim budget. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to present the budget on February 1 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Halwa ceremony as the final stage preparations for the Interim Union Budget 2024 commences, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Ministry of Finance-X)

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Radhika Dalmia, chairperson of FICCI Ladies Organisation (Kolkata chapter), stressed the importance of increasing the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana allowance and enhancing education benefits for girls, considering these measures crucial. She emphasised that strengthening financial inclusion, healthcare infrastructure, and prioritizing education, especially for girls, are vital for fostering a more inclusive India.

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Saloni Verma, co-founder and chairperson of Sunshine Corporate Creches, discussed the impact of the Maternity Act 2017, making creche services and six months of paid maternity leave mandatory for companies with 50+ employees. Verma proposed financial incentives for smaller companies to afford maternity leave salaries and creche services, addressing concerns about reluctance to hire married young women and the skewed female ratio in most companies.

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Jyoti Bhandari, founder and CEO of Lovak Capital, called for Budget 2024 to prioritise skill training for young women, offering vocational programs post-class 12. She urged the fulfilment of promises to empower women economically and encourage the evolution of “Lakhpati Mahilas” from Women’s Self Help Groups. Bhandari emphasised supporting successful women entrepreneurs from these groups by facilitating their transition into larger value chain-focused producer organizations. She advocated focusing on the role of women in agriculture and exploring their potential contributions to various non-farm sectors, contributing to India’s goal of becoming a global economic force.

(Inputs from wires)

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