The Self-Employed Women's Association of India

What is SEWA-Self Employed Women's Association

Self Employed Women's Association-is a trade union formed in 1972. It is both an organisation and a movement with each strengthening and carrying forward the other.

The SEWA movement is especially enhanced by its being a 'Sangam' or confluence fo three movements; the labour movement, the co-operative movenment and the women's movement. Gandhian policy is the inspiration for SEWA. The poor self-employed SEWA members organise for social change through the path of nonviolence and truth.

SEWA organises women to enter the mainstream of the economy through the twin strategies of struggle and development. The struggle is against the many constraints and limitatgions imposed on them by society and the economy. While development activities strengthen their bargaining power and offer them new alternatives.

The struggles on behalf of its members are carried out by the union. These struggles are at the level of exploitation faced directly by the members. At the level of implementation of laws and dealings with officials, and at the lebel of policy and, legislation formulation.

Development takes firstly the form of heoping members to form their own co-operatives and groups. The co-operatives move towards early self-reliance, thereby offering an alternative, non-exploitative method of employment to the producer.

Social security is another form of development where the member is able to meet her needs other than employment of health-care, child-care, savings and insurance.

Any self-employed woman in India can become a member of SEWA by paying a membership fee of minimum Rs. 5 per year. Every three years the members elect their representatives to the Trade Council, who in turn elect the highest decision making body, the twenty five member Executive Committee. Four committed and experienced SEWA organisers are also elected to the Executive Commiittee. This body represents all the major trades and occupations of SEWA members.

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