Self Employed Women’s Association SEWA

Linked with our presentation of Ela Bhatt – India.

Linked also with our presentation of Reema Nanavaty – India.

The group started small — a few thousand members — but these days, it’s the largest primary labor union in the country, representing a quarter of a million self-employed workers, from fruit vendors to stitchers to road construction workers. Members have formed trade cooperatives for various groups — like cattle raisers and cigarette rollers — to share resources and tackle common issues. Along with negotiating power, SEWA (which means “service” in Hindi and Gujarati) offers programs for health and maternity benefits. One of the group’s biggest coups was the 1974 creation of its own bank, where women can start a savings account with just a few rupees, or take out a small loan to grow their enterprise. These microfinancing opportunities are vital resources for women who previously would have had to resort to hawking their bangles or borrowing from gouging moneylenders. It also gives women a place to stash their savings, safe from the hands of husbands, sons and in-laws — in other words, a chance to be self-reliant.

Elaben Bhatt, SEWA’s founder and former secretary general, gives her perspective on poverty. She speaks of the struggle to break the cycle of subsistence, deprivation and survival that characterizes the life of the world’s poor, in particular women. She provides some answers: access to credit and productive resources, action, organisation and leadership. (Read the whole article on BBC world).

Appropriate technology for supporting micro enterprise: SEWA’s provision, training and capacity-building with ICTs at the grassroots level has helped in bridging the existing digital divide through the use of technologies appropriate to the needs of its members. It has shown that such technologies can support women working in the informal sector, bringing greater livelihood security to economically vulnerable households living in increasingly fragile environments … Having understood the effect of poor access to information on poverty, SEWA embarked on a journey to include ICTs within its work.

The vision was to make ICTs a tool for empowering its ever-increasing numbers of grassroots members. It now runs programmes which develop women’s abilities in the use of computers, radio, television, video, the telephone, fax machines, mobile phones and satellite communication. (Read more about on Bridge Gender Development).


a diapositive-link;




Such-Knecht (a link in german);

The Anasooya-Newsletter (in Hindi);

the news market;

Working Women And Security: Self Employed Women’s Association’s response to crisis;

SEWA Bharat.

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