A vision for women’s empowerment: the story of Ela Bhatt’s SEWA

Source: The post is based on the articleA vision for women’s empowerment: the story of Ela Bhatt’s SEWApublished in Indian Express on 4th November 2022. 

What is the News?

Ela Bhatt, noted Gandhian, leading women’s empowerment activist and renowned founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has passed away.

What is the Self-Employed Women’s Association(SEWA)?

SEWA is the single largest Central trade union registered in 1972 with a base of over 2.1 million members from India and in neighbouring nations.

It grew out of the Textile Labour Association (TLA) — founded by Anasuya Sarabhai and Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.

It was founded on the principle “poor do not need charity, they need an enabling mechanism to come out of the vicious circle of poverty and vulnerability”.

Objectives: It has twin goals: Full employment: Achieve work security, food security and social security and Self-reliance: At individual and community levels in terms of economic as well as decision making abilities.

Membership: With an annual membership fee of Rs 10, SEWA allows anyone (women) who is self-employed to become a member.

What are the importance and achievements of SEWA?

It has helped rehabilitate women in personal, and even political or social crises by empowering them through skilling and training.

In 1974, SEWA Bank was established to provide small loans to poor women which was recognised by the International Labour Organisation as a microfinance movement.

The Unorganised Workers Social Security Act (2008), the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (2011), and the Street Vendors Act (2014) are seen as successes of SEWA’s struggle.

The PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi(PM-SVANidhi) scheme is seen as being inspired by SEWA’s microfinance model.

During the pandemic, SEWA launched Anubandh, an e-commerce platform to connect sellers with buyers, to keep kitchen fires burning through the lockdowns.

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