Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) and Women Empowerment?

Women who get and retain their DBT can improve their disposable income, financial decision making and the family’s respect for them. They can retain their children in school as well as avail of employment opportunities under MGNREGS or pensions through NSAP. Unfortunately, the research found that nearly 40% of women gave their DBT funds to their spouses either wilfully or under coercion. Prehistoric and defined gender roles govern access to and control of resources. This is indeed a wake up call for the Government of India that DBT may not be enough to ensure more money in the hands of women and their empowerment. The first step should be not to treat the beneficiaries of DBT as a homogeneous group. Transfer of funds as well as monitoring utilisation through a women-managed NGO could be a possible solution here. Teaching and promoting gender equality in school as well as in informal and social levels could educate the men folk to shed entrenched gender inequalities and men supremacy at the bottom level. Breaking the gender inequalities may be difficult in the short run, but no effort to reduce the same may prove far costly for the society and nation in the long run.

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