SEWA Bharat is part of the national SEWA movement. Established in 1984, it is a national federation of SEWA organizations of women working in the informal economy. SEWA Bharat emerged out of the need to address the SEWA movement’s challenges with geographical expansion and coordination. SEWA Bharat is comprised of a family of SEWA organizations to further informal women workers’ rights, livelihoods, financial independence, education, health and social security.
SEWA Bharat’s Role:
-Strengthen smaller SEWAs towards their independence by helping them plan and execute new programs.
-Develop new SEWAs by identifying the potential for setting up new SEWA organizations around India.
-Facilitate linkages through experience sharing between existing SEWAs and other NGOs, connecting SEWAs with government programs, and guiding market linkages for informal women worker’s livelihood development.
-Build a national identity for SEWA in order to advocate for the rights of women workers across India.
SEWA Bharat’s Goals:
At SEWA we 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.
-Full employment means work that provides economic security, food security and social security.
-Self-reliance aims to support women towards being autonomous and self-reliant both economically and in terms of their decision-making ability. Self-reliance is the basis of sustainability that is essential at the individual basis and also for SEWA’s women’s collectives, organizations, and cooperatives.
The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a women’s trade union that was started by women workers in Gujarat (1972) under the guidance of Smt. Ela Bhatt. Originally borne out of the Textile Labor Association (TLA), India’s oldest and largest union of textile workers, SEWA is now a globally recognized trade union of women workers in the informal economy. In order to secure economic, social, and legal rights for women workers, SEWA supports the formation of member-based organizations of poor working-women. The first such organization was the SEWA Bank, followed by diverse cooperatives and producer groups of women with livelihoods as artisans, milk producers and farmers. Later on, women formed service co-operatives like those around health and child-care.
After over 40 years, SEWA has expanded across the country and has become a multistate movement owned by women in the informal economy. By the end of 2016, there were over 1.9 million SEWA members representing 17 states of India. SEWA Bharat’s membership institutions help the movement reach out to vulnerable women working in the informal economy.
For more, see the history of SEWA on SEWA Ahmedabad’s website.
SEWA’s commitments are:
• -To strengthen women through establishing a common identity as informal workers
• -To keep workers’ rights, needs, visions at the centre
• -To empower women as leaders of their own programs
• -To uphold non-violence methods of demonstration
Where is Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Bharat