A Women's Self-help Organization for Poverty Alleviation in India
Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank, a separate bank of poor self-employed women workers was established at the initiative of 4,000 self-employed women workers in the year 1974. The bank is owned by the self-employed women and policies are made by their own elected board. Today it has 51,000 depositors and working capital of Rs.10 crores.
The Sewa bank provides all finance-linked supportive services to its members and has started a work security insurance scheme and a housing programme. The bank is now actively expanding into the rural areas through savings and credit groups. They stay operational by making use of the surplus to promote developmental activities of SEWA
In a survey conducted by the women's wing of the Textile Labour Association (TLA), Ahmedabad, in 1970, it was found that self-employed women not only have insecure employment and earn much less than workers in the organized sector, but also have no support for their work or for themselves in times of difficulties. The survey also revealed instances of exploitation of women workers and the large number of issues untouched by unionization, government legislation and policies.
Prior to the formation of SEWA as a trade union in 1972 in Ahmedabad, the women's wing of the Textile Labour Association (TLA) took up the cause of the women belonging to households of mill workers by assisting them in learning skills of sewing, knitting, embroidery, spinning, press composition, typing and stenography. By 1968, classes in the above trades were established in the TLA centers throughout the city.
In the 1970s the women's movement took a new and more radical turn, with women participating actively in social movements and demanding opportunities in all spheres of life.
The Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) was born in December 1971, and after a long-drawn official battle SEWA was registered as a...
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