Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) - Empowering Women in India

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN029
Case Length : 09 Pages
Period : 1970-2004
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Self Employed Women's Association
Industry : Service
Countries : India

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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Organization and Growth of SEWA

In 1972, the garment workers formed their own co-operative. They were the first group to be organized under SEWA. By 1977, six other groups - used garment dealers, handcart pullers, vegetable vendors, junk-smiths, milk producers and miscellaneous workers - formed their own cooperatives.

The co-operatives were formed with the share capital provided by the women. Each co-operative was run by a democratically elected executive committee of workers. (Refer Exhibit II for the structure of the co-operatives) Initially, SEWA provided the required capital to the co-operatives, but once they were established, they functioned on their own.

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The members of the co-operatives shared their skills and expertise, developed new tools, designs and techniques and were engaged in joint marketing efforts. The members of SEWA increased from 320 in 1973 to 6,94,551 in 2002. (Refer Exhibit III). The self-employed women could be divided into four main groups: home-based workers, street vendors, contract laborers and small producers. (Refer Exhibit IV) Any self-employed woman over the age of 15 was eligible to become a member of SEWA by paying a nominal annual fee of Rs. 3. In 1975, the annual membership fee was increased to Rs. 5 (0.11 USD11). 

Activities of SEWA

SEWA provided access to easy credit through the savings and credit co-operative, SEWA Bank. SEWA also extended help in providing social security services like housing, childcare and health care facilities. Realising the need to train the members it established the SEWA Academy. With reference to the various activities undertaken by SEWA, Bhatt said, "These organisations invigorate the movement to go ahead and in the process more organisations take birth and take roots. It is like the banyan tree whose branches take roots and grow into independent self-reliant trees throwing out more branches and so on.

The banyan tree sprawls on the ground for generations to come. Even cutting down a branch from the mother tree would not destroy any one, both will survive."12

Excerpts>>


11]  SEWA is also called as Swashrayi Mahila Sangh in Hindi. SEWA means service.

12]  What Has Worked in SEWA: Second Freedom, http://persmin.nic.in/arpg/SEWA1.htm

 

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