Self Employed Women’s Association SEWA

Linked with Gauriben RaysinghbHai KOLI – India, and with Women as the Leaders of Development.
Read all the rest on SEWA’a Website.

Introduction: SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972. It is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. These are women who earn a living through their own labour or small businesses. They do not obtain regular salaried employment with welfare benefits like workers in the organised sector. They are the unprotected labour force of our country. Constituting 93% of the labour force, these are workers of the unorganised sector. Of the female labour force in India, more than 94% are in the unorganised sector. However their work is not counted and hence re-mains invisible. In fact, women workers themselves remain uncounted, undercounted and invisible.

SEWA’s main goals are to organise women workers for full emploreliance. Full employment means employment whereby workers obtain work security, income security, food security and social security (at least health care, child care and shelter). SEWA organises women to ensure that every family obtains full employment. By self-reliance we mean that women should be autonomous and self-reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of their decision-making ability.

At SEWA workers are orgainsed to achieve their goals of full employment and self reliance through the strategy of struggle and development. The struggle is against the many constraints and limitations imposed on them by society and the economy, while development activities strengthen women’s bargaining power and offer them new alternatives.

Practically, the strategy is carried out through the joint action of union and cooperatives. Gandhian thinking is the guiding force for SEWA’s poor, self-employed members in organising for social change. We follow the principles of satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), sarvadharma (integrating all faiths, all people) and khadi (propagation of local employment and self reliance).

SEWA is both an organisation and a movement. The SEWA movement is enhanced by its being a sangam or confluence of three movements : the labour movement, the cooperative movement and the women’s movement. But it is also a movement of self-employed workers : their own, home-grown movement with women as the leaders. Through their own movement women become strong and visible. Their tremendous economic and social contributions become recognised.

As we face the next century, we recognise the numerous challenges ahead. With globalization, liberalization and other economic changes, there are both new opporunities as well as threats to some traditional areas of employment.

More than ever, our members are ready to face the winds of change. They know that they must organise to build their own strength and to meet challenges. There are still millions of women who remain in poverty and are exploited, despite their long hours of hard labour. They bear the brunt of the changes in our country and must be brought into the mainstream, so as to avail of the new opportunities that are developing with regard to employment.

Also there is much to be done in terms of strengthening women’s leadership, their confidence, their bargaining power within and outside their homes and their representation in policy-making and decision-making for a. It is their issues, their priorities and needs which should guide and mould the development process in our country. Toward this end, SEWA has been supporting its members in capacity-builiding and in developing their own economic organisations.

Comments are closed.