SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972. It is an organization of poor, self-employed women workers. These are women who earn a living through their own labor or small businesses. They do not obtain regular salaried employment with welfare benefits like workers in the organized sector. They are the unprotected labor force of their country. Constituting 93% of the labor force, these are workers of the unorganized sector. Of the female labor force in India, more than 94% are in the unorganized sector. However, women workers remain uncounted, undercounted and invisible.
SEWA’s main goals are to organize women workers for full employment. 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 organizes women to ensure that every family obtains full employment. By self-reliance they mean that women should be autonomous and self-reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of their decision-making ability.
At SEWA they organize workers 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 organizing for social change.
Supportive services like savings and credit, health care, child care, insurance, legal aid, capacity building and communication services are important needs of poor women. SEWA has helped women take a number of initiatives in organising these services for themselves and their SEWA sisters. They provide these services in a decentralised and affordable manner, at the doorsteps of workers. Further, supportive services can be and are themselves a source of self-employment.
Also, women are ready to pay for the services and in fact, this results in the financial viability of the supportive services. Some supportive services like savings and credit, health and child care have formed their own co-operatives. these cooperatives have gained operational self sufficiency.
SEWA bank has achieved financial viability for many years now, while the other cooperatives are steadily moving towards this.
Capacity building of Sewa Members
Housing and Infrastructure
VimoSEWA (SEWA Insurance)