Start Date

9-12-2012 10:30 AM

End Date

9-12-2012 11:45 AM

Description

Abstract

Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a member-based organisation of poor self-employed women workers. It has a membership of 13.1 million women workers in 10 states of India; nearly 2/3rd of the membership being from the rural areas. SEWA’s main goal is to organize the women worker’s for full employment and self-reliance which means 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.

Rural Organizing and Community Building

SEWA’s approach to rural organizing is area-specific and demand driven; the communities themselves are the designers and implementers of all activitiesSEWA believes in the primacy of local ownership and knowledge. The members and leaders are trained in the skills necessary to competently administer their own organizations and cooperatives; and undergo intensive training in administration, financial management and the technical aspects of their trade.

Livelihood activities are structured according to local needs and regional characteristics. Members form cooperatives or producer groups around a variety of activities from water conservation and dairy production to craftwork, reforestation and salt farming, with each intervention tailored to local conditions. By organizing themselves into cooperatives and district level federations, the members develop collective bargaining power and create for themselves alternative sources of employment, and thereby, livelihood security for their families.

Economic Empowerment

Experience shows that when women have the capacity to anticipate risks and use their resources, and thus believes that the workers must also conceive, build and expand their own economic strength by establishing their own economic institutions. Till date SEWA is successful in organizing and empowering poor, self-employed women into more than 3200 SHGs, 110 co-operatives, 15 associations / federations and have set-up Micro Enterprises (MEs) that deal in 184 income-generating activities. In order to help the members achieve economic empowerment, SEWA follows integrated approach

  • Organizing for collective strength
  • Capacity building to stand firm in the competitive market
  • Capital formation for risk mitigation and fight poverty
  • Social security to enhance well-being and productivity

Few examples of the members owned and managed organizations / groups are as below.

Livelihood Opportunities and Opportunities Enabling Livelihood Security

Artisan Support Programme : More than 25000 artisans are organized and earn an income of Rs 3000 to 5000 per month with an annual turnover of Rs. 25,000,000.

Weavers Support Programme - Organised 3000 members engaged in weaving and are earning an income of Rs. 2500 to 5000 / month.

Salt Farming - Organized 8000 salt farmers and are earning a revenue of R 2500 to 3000. The total annual turnover is 75000 MT of salt amounting to Rs 1 crore and 65 lakhs.

Agriculture : Agriculture is the main occupation of majority of SEWA members. Through SEWA’s ongoing agriculture campaign the turnover reached almost Rs. 8 crores.

Market led Skill Building

SEWA provides market led skills for more than 25,000 households who are semi skilled workers and for the laborers to enable them set-up their own micro enterprises. SEWA has so far trained the youth in emerging areas such as Vision care management, hospitality, garment structure and garmenting , retailing, paramedical , para veterinary, water technicians etc.

Building a cadre of barefoot Managers

Started in 2005 SEWA Manager’s School (SMS) is a capacity building institution with the goal of facilitating economic self-sustainability. SMS focuses on capacity building in general management, planning and budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and human behavior. Also imparts business management trainings through mini MBA course. Till date 8,00,000 members have been trained

Green Livelihoods

Through green energy and green livelihood initiative 139,665 members earn average annual income of Rs. 1,175 million. This comprises of water conservation, well repair, nursery raising, fodder growing, vermicompost production, and other environmentally friendly and economically beneficial activities.

SEWA Gram Mahila Haat (SGMH)

SGMH, a state level apex organization established with the aim of strengthening the rural distribution network, strives to strengthen the bargaining power of the members and is active in the 14 districts of Gujarat with more than 6,000 groups and approximately 132,000 women.

RUDI MULTI TRADING COMPANY

An initiative to upscale the Agro based activities of SEWA under the ‘RUDI’ brand wherein procurement, processing, packaging and marketing of food grains at the local level. The essence is to strengthen rural economy through rural procurement and rural distribution and thereby enable to provide multiple employment opportunities, reduced incidental expenses, reach of agricultural products and non-agricultural products to customers at affordable prices and required quantity and good quality, elimination of middlemen and socio-economic development. In the year 2009-2010, RUDI achieved a turnover of Rs. 3 crores.

  • Nirmaan- Construction Workers Company

Set up to turn the skills of the members like masonry, carpentry, and production of construction items into a livelihood opportunity. Today nearly 1400 masons whose lives and livelihoods have become securer. Organised into a Company facilitates compete in the markets, take up construction work on a sustainable basis, access to funds, access to new technology, refresher trainings etc. for better building practices. Presently are in a better position to access schemes programmes, high value work opportunities and negotiate terms of trade in their favour.

  • SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre (STFC)

STFC, a section 25 company; established, owned and managed by 15000 artisan members of SEWA to turn their activity in to the commercial venture with an objective of promoting access to national and global markets. Today STFC has reached an annual turnover of Rs. 25,000,000.

Lessons Learnt and Way Forward

SEWA’s experiences says that for generating sustainable livelihood for the poor rural women workers it is very important that the approach should be two pronged wherein (a) the thrust is on building local skills (b) building supply chain and managerial capacity leading to sustainable livelihood generation.

SEWA proposes to contribute as a resource organisation and SEWA Manager ni School as a training organisation.

Streaming Media

Presentation SEWA.pptx (861 kB)
Presentation Material

Rehana Riyawala-abstract-chi.docx (17 kB)
Chinese Version_Abstract

Recommended Citation

Riyawala, R. (2012, December). Rural organising, community building and economic empowerment at SEWA. Paper presented at 2012 International Conference on Sustainability & Rural Reconstruction, Southwest University, Chongqingng, China.

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Dec 9th, 10:30 AM Dec 9th, 11:45 AM

Rural organising, community building and economic empowerment at SEWA

Abstract

Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a member-based organisation of poor self-employed women workers. It has a membership of 13.1 million women workers in 10 states of India; nearly 2/3rd of the membership being from the rural areas. SEWA’s main goal is to organize the women worker’s for full employment and self-reliance which means 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.

Rural Organizing and Community Building

SEWA’s approach to rural organizing is area-specific and demand driven; the communities themselves are the designers and implementers of all activitiesSEWA believes in the primacy of local ownership and knowledge. The members and leaders are trained in the skills necessary to competently administer their own organizations and cooperatives; and undergo intensive training in administration, financial management and the technical aspects of their trade.

Livelihood activities are structured according to local needs and regional characteristics. Members form cooperatives or producer groups around a variety of activities from water conservation and dairy production to craftwork, reforestation and salt farming, with each intervention tailored to local conditions. By organizing themselves into cooperatives and district level federations, the members develop collective bargaining power and create for themselves alternative sources of employment, and thereby, livelihood security for their families.

Economic Empowerment

Experience shows that when women have the capacity to anticipate risks and use their resources, and thus believes that the workers must also conceive, build and expand their own economic strength by establishing their own economic institutions. Till date SEWA is successful in organizing and empowering poor, self-employed women into more than 3200 SHGs, 110 co-operatives, 15 associations / federations and have set-up Micro Enterprises (MEs) that deal in 184 income-generating activities. In order to help the members achieve economic empowerment, SEWA follows integrated approach

  • Organizing for collective strength
  • Capacity building to stand firm in the competitive market
  • Capital formation for risk mitigation and fight poverty
  • Social security to enhance well-being and productivity

Few examples of the members owned and managed organizations / groups are as below.

Livelihood Opportunities and Opportunities Enabling Livelihood Security

Artisan Support Programme : More than 25000 artisans are organized and earn an income of Rs 3000 to 5000 per month with an annual turnover of Rs. 25,000,000.

Weavers Support Programme - Organised 3000 members engaged in weaving and are earning an income of Rs. 2500 to 5000 / month.

Salt Farming - Organized 8000 salt farmers and are earning a revenue of R 2500 to 3000. The total annual turnover is 75000 MT of salt amounting to Rs 1 crore and 65 lakhs.

Agriculture : Agriculture is the main occupation of majority of SEWA members. Through SEWA’s ongoing agriculture campaign the turnover reached almost Rs. 8 crores.

Market led Skill Building

SEWA provides market led skills for more than 25,000 households who are semi skilled workers and for the laborers to enable them set-up their own micro enterprises. SEWA has so far trained the youth in emerging areas such as Vision care management, hospitality, garment structure and garmenting , retailing, paramedical , para veterinary, water technicians etc.

Building a cadre of barefoot Managers

Started in 2005 SEWA Manager’s School (SMS) is a capacity building institution with the goal of facilitating economic self-sustainability. SMS focuses on capacity building in general management, planning and budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and human behavior. Also imparts business management trainings through mini MBA course. Till date 8,00,000 members have been trained

Green Livelihoods

Through green energy and green livelihood initiative 139,665 members earn average annual income of Rs. 1,175 million. This comprises of water conservation, well repair, nursery raising, fodder growing, vermicompost production, and other environmentally friendly and economically beneficial activities.

SEWA Gram Mahila Haat (SGMH)

SGMH, a state level apex organization established with the aim of strengthening the rural distribution network, strives to strengthen the bargaining power of the members and is active in the 14 districts of Gujarat with more than 6,000 groups and approximately 132,000 women.

RUDI MULTI TRADING COMPANY

An initiative to upscale the Agro based activities of SEWA under the ‘RUDI’ brand wherein procurement, processing, packaging and marketing of food grains at the local level. The essence is to strengthen rural economy through rural procurement and rural distribution and thereby enable to provide multiple employment opportunities, reduced incidental expenses, reach of agricultural products and non-agricultural products to customers at affordable prices and required quantity and good quality, elimination of middlemen and socio-economic development. In the year 2009-2010, RUDI achieved a turnover of Rs. 3 crores.

  • Nirmaan- Construction Workers Company

Set up to turn the skills of the members like masonry, carpentry, and production of construction items into a livelihood opportunity. Today nearly 1400 masons whose lives and livelihoods have become securer. Organised into a Company facilitates compete in the markets, take up construction work on a sustainable basis, access to funds, access to new technology, refresher trainings etc. for better building practices. Presently are in a better position to access schemes programmes, high value work opportunities and negotiate terms of trade in their favour.

  • SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre (STFC)

STFC, a section 25 company; established, owned and managed by 15000 artisan members of SEWA to turn their activity in to the commercial venture with an objective of promoting access to national and global markets. Today STFC has reached an annual turnover of Rs. 25,000,000.

Lessons Learnt and Way Forward

SEWA’s experiences says that for generating sustainable livelihood for the poor rural women workers it is very important that the approach should be two pronged wherein (a) the thrust is on building local skills (b) building supply chain and managerial capacity leading to sustainable livelihood generation.

SEWA proposes to contribute as a resource organisation and SEWA Manager ni School as a training organisation.