The Kerala government allocated Rs 3 crore for women filmmakers in the state Budget presented last week, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said on Friday. The minister also acknowledged the Women in Cinema Collective as an important movement.

“Emergence of a women collective has been an important turning point in the struggle for gender equality in Malayalam film world,” Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac tweeted on Friday. “Kerala budget provides for a special scheme to financially support women filmmakers.”

The Women in Cinema Collective is a non-profit organisation for women in Malayalam cinema. It was founded in 2017 in response to the alleged sexual assault of a Malayalam actress.

Isaac told NDTV that women artistes in the state’s film industry have been “challenging the usual male-dominated norms”. “We want to support women artists,” he said. “[Rs] 3 crore is not a very big amount, but this can be extended in years to come. There will be some protocols in place. Let’s see how this will work out.”

Bina Paul, vice president of Kerala State Chalachitra Academy and a founding member of the Women in Cinema Collective, said the budgetary allocation was an “important beginning”, according to NDTV. “It’s difficult for anyone to make cinema anywhere in the world. But it’s twice hard for women. And being part of Women In Cinema Collective has been further challenging. This is being done for the first time in India.”

Paul said it would be good to have a criterion of minimum number of women artistes in the films made under the budget. “We are also interested in the modalities of what this will materialise into,” she said.

The collective has advocated gender equality in the Malayalam film industry by demanding equal representation of women in trade associations, and pushing for institutional attention to gender issues in the industry.