Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a membership-based organisation of poor self-employed women workers. It has membership of more than 1 million women workers in 9 states of India and current membership of 12,56,994. These nine states are Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Uttarakhand.
These women work in the informal sector of the economy and do not have a fixed employer-employee relationship. SEWA’s main goal is to organize the women worker’s for full employment and self reliance. Full employment means employment whereby workers obtain work security, income security, food security and social security (at least health care, child care and shelter). By self reliance we mean that women should be self reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of decision making ability.
SEWA organizes these women workers through the strategy of struggle and development. The struggle is against many constraints and limitations imposed on them by the society and the economy, while development activities strengthen women’s bargaining power and offers them new alternatives. Practically, the strategy is carried out through the joint action of union and cooperatives.
The main objective of the project was to build the capacity of the SHG members to enhance the education and skill opportunities of the local communities. Village meetings were conducted in 15 villages and in all 474 participants attended these meetings. Series of trainings sessions were conducted including leadership, technical, washing power, incense stick making, solar lantern assembling, weaving, train the trainers, and accounting were completed during.
Durgarpur women making solar lanterns
SEWA movement is enhanced by a confluence of three movements – the labour movement, the cooperative movement and the women’s movement.
SEWA and ICA Partnership: Expanding To Rajasthan for Capacity Building for SHGs
SEWA has been working in Rajasthan since 2006. SEWA entered into an agreement with District Rural Development Agency(DRDA), Dungarpur for integrated development of rural women of Dungarpur district, through Self Help Groups(SHGs). SEWA has been implementing this program since then focusing on the integrated development of the groups by providing them with capacity building inputs and facilitating social security and related services to the rural women. The program is being implemented in five village panchayats of Dungarpur and Bichiwara blocks of Dungarpur district.
In order to strengthen the work that SEWA has been doing in the state of Rajasthan, ICA has been working with SEWA by providing initial seed funding to support following objectives:
Members Education and SEWA Movement Training
The Membership Education program, Sabhya Shikshan, has become the backbone of SEWA’s leadership development program. This program, the most basic and introductory program of SEWA, was initiated as a means for SEWA to create a sense of unity and direction, awareness or SEWA’s values and ideology particularly as the organization are rapidly expanding. By building identity, unity and an understanding of collective action among SEWA members, the program plays a central role in creating the deep roots that makes the SEWA movement strong.
Through the training, members learn to identify themselves as women workers and come to understand the structure of SEWA and their role within the organization. They also understand the contribution of women in the Indian Economy, collective strength by organizing, awareness of their power as women in the society, and nation at large. By this awareness they learn the values of unity and organizing.
Training is held in the villages by trained member-trainers. Since its inception in 1998, more than 16,000 members from nine districts in Gujarat have completed the training. SEWA proposes to undertake similar member’s education trainings in Rajasthan also.
Training and Capacity Building
The intention under this program is to enhance the capacities of the members, leaders, trainers and organizers of the program. In order to ensure local capacity building of the team various types of trainings will be provided to the members. These trainings will include
- SEWA movement Training
- Trainers Training
- Training of barefoot managers – the training will consist of reflection meetings, exposure trips, lateral learning, etc.
- Leadership training
- Capacity building trainings to the members of spearhead team
- Capacity building trainings for management of groups, accounts, writing reports, minutes, etc.
Using the model described in following video, women empowerment, Rajasthan project aims to build initial capacity building. In Dungarpur ultimately SEWA will have similar kind of livelihood generation activities.
SEWA-ICA Joint program “Capacity Building of rural poor women” testimonials
My name is Lalita Valjibhai Salvi , I live in Hathai village of Dungarpur Block from Dungarpur District. My husband is running small shop in Hathai village. I have two sons and one daughter. I came to Hathai from Uttar Pradesh after marriage. For the past so many years, I used to work for 100 days in a year under the NREGA scheme. I used to work on digging the plots and loading buckets of clay. For the rest of the year, I did not have any work and would sit at home only.
SEWA started working in our village from last three years, I became a member of SEWA. Under the SEWA and ICA joint project on capacity building of rural poor women, I took weaving trainings. I learnt weaving for a period of six months and than started producing handloom towels and bed –sheets. Now I earn an income of Rs. 50 to 70 Rs per day from this production.
As a result of this additional income in the family, I help my husband in running the house easily. Now I get employment for all the 365 days in the year. My family and I live a happily.
Surajben Devilal Ahari is a leader from Sablana Village. She says that “I live in Sablana village since I got married to my husband . Because of “parda” system in Rajasthan, we have to cover our head up to our face all the time. We are not allowed to show our face to anyone. As a result of this we cannot go anywhere. Speaking up in public is just out of question for us. I joined SEWA nad received member’s education training. After receiving these trainings, we came to know about women, what they can do? and their contribution to the family, village, and the country.” Surajben ‘s capacity has been further built up after taking TOT trainings. She now attends the gramsbahas held in the villages and can speak up about the village issues in front of the government officers. This year she also contested for the election of sarpanch.
My name is Anita Hariram Dindor. I live in Ghata ka Gaon village of Sagwada Block in Dungarpur District. My husband runs a small grocery shop in our house.
When I got married and came to this village, I used to look after the house and my husband’s two children. I also used to help him run the shop and in farming activity. I am literate and was 10th pass. I wanted to acquire some skills to help me earn a livelihood.
SEWA organized a meeting in our village and explained us about the different activities undertaken by them, we felt very good and many women from our village became members of SEWA. We formed 4 Self Help Groups in our village and I am the President of one of the groups . Under a joint project with ICA, 7 women from our village were given trainings in assembling of solar lanterns. Following this trainings, we get Rs 50 for assembling one solar lantern. We are assembling 3 to 4 lanterns in one day. Due to this trainings, we now get regular employment and income. Through this income we are helping in running the house and also can send our children to good schools.
I go to other villages and conduct meetings of their Self Help Groups also.
I am surajben Devilal Ahari. I live in Sablana village of Dungarpur block in Dungarpur District
I am illiterate. My husband has two children with his first wife. I was taking care of my children and helping my husband in running the shop which we have in our house.
SEWA team came to our village. They organized a few meetings and explained us about SEWA. We became members of SEWA. Today we have 5 SHGs in our village. Initially we started the group by saving Rs 25 per member per month. After one year we started saving Rs. 50 per month.
The local Bank and Jilla Vikas Parishad has graded our groups. Bank has also sanctioned revolving fund after first grading. A second grading of the group will be done and additional loan will then be sanctioned to the group for undertaking business.
I am the president of one of the groups. We learnt about the importance of Savings, importance of unity and benefits of savings. After receiving the loan from bank we (the group) will start our business and get employment and help our husbands in running the house.
Also in our village one group members got the training for solar assembling. Now they are able to assemble lanterns will be able to sell in our villages.