WASHINGTON: US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has hailed India's eminent social activist Ela Bhatt as one of her "heroines" for her pioneering work in empowering women. "I have a lot of heroes and heroines around the world," Clinton said on Thursday, adding that one of them is Ela Bhatt, who started an organization called the Self-Employed Women's Association (Sewa) in India many years ago.
"She was a very well educated woman who had the options available to those in her class with her intellectual ability, but she chose to devote her life to organizing the poorest of the poor, women who worked in fields, who sold vegetables, who were domestics, who struggled to eke out a living for themselves and their families, women who were considered the last to eat, the least important," Clinton said while speaking very highly of Bhatt. (Source:http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-23/us/32381949_1_ela-bhatt-heroines-hillary-clinton ) Ela Bhatt is founder of SEWA, India’s largest labor union which represents 1.2 million women in the informal sector from women stitching embroidery and making food products to day-laborers, artisans, waste collectors, street vendors and small farmers. She has received numerous international awards for her work and is a member of The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders who were brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007.
The Gandhian Movement ;
* Penning of the book on the Gandhi movement The grand history of Khadia was retraced when Ela Bhatt, founder of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), released the book `Mahatma ki chaon mein' or 'Under the shadow of Mahatma' penned by her maternal grandfather late Dr Manidhar Shankarlal Vyas who was a freedom fighter and a revolutionary who had participated in the Dandi March. -------------------------------------------------
A founding member of Women's World Banking, Ela Bhatt is also the founder of the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), one of the most successful organizations for the economic empowerment of women in India. She also founded SEWA Cooperative Bank in 1974. In 1989, she was the first woman appointed to the Planning Commission in India. Prior to this, she was a member of the Indian Parliament. Mrs. Bhatt's many awards include the Right Livelihood Award and the Ramon Magsasay Award and she was named to the Elders Project by Nelson Mandela in 2007. She has served on the WWB Board of Trustees since 1980, and was Chair from 1988 to 1998.
"I realized that although eighty percent of women in India are economically active, they are outside the purview of legislation." Ela's Story
Born in 1933 to a middle class, well-educated family, Ela Bhatt has spent her life fighting for the rights and welfare of India's 'invisible' workers. Her grandparents worked with Mahatma Gandhi in the non-violent struggle for Indian Independence from the British. Deeply influenced by Gandhi, Ela has followed his ideals all her life. She has pioneered the idea that people themselves, no matter how poor or uneducated, are able to solve their own problems if they organize together to do so. To help provide this, she founded SEWA, the Self-Employed Women's Association. Called "one of the best - -if not the best - - grassroots programmes for women on the planet," SEWA proved so successful that it has become a model for micro-finance programs in other parts of the world. Ela started as a lawyer with the Textile Labour Association (TLA) in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a union founded by Gandhi, who had deep respect for India's textile producers. Working in the women's division, Ela soon found that women were doing many of the labor-intensive tasks needed in textile production, as well as in other fields of work. However, as workers, they were invisible. Out- raged, Ela said, "Personally, I don't think there can be any greater injustice to anybody in the world than to have one's work...