Frail women with their small children are a common observation on any construction site. A single look on them and you are sure that all of them are under nourished. You know that these women are being exploited financially. Long working hours and no other facilities and above all, they are paid less for their labour. You really share their pain and want to help them. The supervisor taking work from them does not give two hoots to you. You don’t know where to look , to help this unorganized work force. It’s a common situation you come across every now & then and remain a mute spectator to women’s exploitation. well , equipped with this information , You can really help this exploited women work force.
Self Employed Women’s Association ( SEWA ) is one such organization which is registered as a trade union under the Indian Trade Unions Act of 1926. Started with 1070 members in 1972 by Ela Bhatt in Ahemdabad, gujrat ,as on today , SEWA has more than a million women as its members . It is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. These are women who earn a living through their own labour or small businesses. They do not obtain regular salaried employment with welfare benefits like workers in the organised sector. They are the unprotected labour force of our country. Constituting 93% of the labour force, these are workers of the unorganised sector . The union is open for membership to self-employed women workers all over India. The membership fee is Rs. 5 per year. SEWA has categorized this workforce in four different groups
1. Hawkers, vendors and small business women like vegetable, fruit, fish, egg and other vendors of food items, household goods and clothes vendors .
2. Home-based workers like weavers, potters, bidi and agarbatti workers, papad rollers, ready-made garment workers, women who process agricultural products and artisans, and
3. Manual labourers & service providers like agricultural labourers, construction workers, contract labourers, handcart pullers, head – loaders, domestic workers and laundry workers. In addition to these three categories there is emergence of another category of women workers.
4. Producers & Services who invest their labour and capital to carry out their businesses. This category includes Agriculture, cattle rearers , salt workers, gum collectors, cooking & vending etc.
Sewa’s biggest impact is that it has made its members more self-reliant . They understand their work’s worth and can fight the factors that make them poor. To give more powers to its members, Sewa also runs 120 sister organisations, 102 cooperatives, three marketing organisations, 15 economic federations, three producer companies and one bank. There is hardly a sphere in women’s lives that it has not touched with microfinance, legal services, healthcare, capacity building, childcare, housing, infrastructure and insurance. Sewa Women’s Co-operative Bank has 86,651 shareholders with Rs 5.7cr share capital. The 4.3lakh account holders have deposits of almost Rs 113cr and availed credit of Rs 52cr in 2011. On average, five lakh women avail microfinance from the Sewa bank each year. Sewa is helping women in the informal economy find a social and economic foothold.Rural women backed by Sewa can manage their families singlehandedly. Sewa has extended its services to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives. Checkout on this site & help the women who needs it the most. http://www.sewa.org/
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