Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) was established in December
1971 to assist illiterate, vulnerable and unorganized self-employed
poor rural and urban women, including small farmers and off-farm
workers, to escape from exploitation.
of SEWA is to develop leadership capacities among women, paving the
way for them to win their rights to security of employment, food,
health, childcare, housing and social security. A priority focal
area for SEWA is asset-building so that the women can claim their
rightful place in the family and the village society.
in response to the felt needs of the self-employed women, SEWA has
evolved considerably over the years. When 1975 was declared the
beginning of Women's Decade, membership grew in more and more
occupations. SEWA received international recognition when its
General Secretary, Ela Bhatt, was awarded the prestigious Ramon
that was slightly over 6,000 in 1972 exceeded 300,000 by 2000. The
SEWA Bank has attained financial viability. Video productions by
women workers and the use of videos for training and policy action
have been a very successful activity in SEWA's expansion.
SEWAHomenet, with members from every continent, is an international
network working towards full recognition of home-based rural and