Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT)
Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) is an autonomous organization promoted by the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in 1994 with the vision to realize the right to shelter and dignity for all.
Founded with the mission of building sound housing and living environments for poor women in the informal sector, MHT's programs address basic civic and housing infrastructure needs, including water, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management, roads, electricity/energy, low-income housing and secured land tenure. MHT facilitates access to information and financial, legal and technical services in housing, water and sanitation, energy, housing finance, climate change, urban planning, construction related livelihood sectors with a focus on improving the quality of lives and livelihoods of poor women.
MHT believes that all citizens, irrespective of their residential status, have a right of equal access to basic services and that they have a right to be treated uniformly and justly by the service providers. Towards this, MHT focuses on enhancing civic engagement among citizens, particularly slum residents, women and rural poor, through promotion of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and grassroot women's leadership.
The Mahila Housing SEWA Trust is dedicated to serving poor women in the informal economy. Official estimates state that 90% of housing gap in the country is in the lower income groups, and it is in those strata that MHT's work has been focussed. To play its role effectively MHT has developed into a hybrid organization combining technical and social skills.
Housing for the poor includes the eco-environment of house structure, local infrastructure and good governance and is an area both of great need and substantial growth. Mahila housing SEWA Trust, as a part of the SEWA movement, serves this need by combining the expertise of engineers and social mobilizers. Starting with Gujarat, MHT is now working in many parts of India. The states are Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bubhneshwar, Bihar, and across South Asia in Nepal and Bangladesh.
MHT creates knowledge on housing from the view-point of the poor and shows that housing is integral to all aspects of a poor woman's life. Her employment is closely tied up with her house and the availability of water, toilets, electricity and safety. In urban areas, the home is the workplace for over 30% of women workers, while in rural areas the home extends to the living space for people as well as cattle. It is also a place where farm produce is stored and processed.
The Mahila Housing SEWA Trust is a social organization, helping women organize themselves into local groups to impact their environment; the growth of Resident Welfare Associations, Community Based Organizations and their Federation (the Vikasini) through MHT support has proved to be a remarkable development. MHT organizes poor women around habitat issues and it builds their confidence to deal with service providers, such as electricity companies, water boards, and housing boards as well as administrative and governance structures like municipalities and district panchayats.
The Mahila Housing SEWA Trust is a technical agency. It has built toilets, laid drain pipes, built water tanks; it has constructed houses for the poor according to their need, affordability and specifications; it has supported in community surveys required for implementing housing programmes; and most importantly it has done all this, in areas where no private or even public agency was ready to enter, and has shown how housing for the poor can be successfully implemented.
MHT, over the years, has become a bridge between poor women and mainstream institutions, thanks to its social-technical approach. It has linked thousands of women with financial institutions like banks and co-operatives, with Government schemes and with private builders, on terms that are favorable to the poor. Through, the journey, MHT like many other SEWA organizations, has become a ‘mother institution' creating new organizations like AWAS SEWA Grih Rin, Credit Cooperatives, Vikasini and many others.
Moving forward the potential is unlimited. MHT has created success stories in many states with many different types of poor women. The poor are still the majority in the country and inclusion of their needs and aspirations into the growth process is important for the country. Mahila Housing SEWA Trust can continue to show the way.
- Improve housing, infrastructure and overall living environment.
- Improve access to services such as shelter finance, legal advice and technical assistance for housing.
- Provide habitat related income generating opportunities.
- Advocate better habitat policies.
MHT's expertise is in its ability to implement and upscale sustainable habitat development solutions for women in urban and rural areas.
MHT believes that the most effective way of bringing services at the grassroots is through community mobilization and empowerment and is thus committed to build local capacities. The critical force for achieving sustainable change in governance can come only from within the communities. Through sustained training, organisation building, technical assistance and financial collaboration, MHT enables local communities to promote, protect and realise their right to basic public services and thereby the right to dignity.
The unique expertise that MHT brings in is its approach to fostering equitable partnerships between the Municipal Corporations, Service Providers and the poor women.
Dignified home, dignified work, dignified life for women working in the informal economy.
To organise and empower women working in the informal economy to exercise their rights as equal citizens to secure better habitat, environment and basic services.See more