Self Employed Women’s Association

- The Rural Union
- Jeevika
- Jeevan Shala
- The Federation of Co-operatives
- SEWA Social Security Net
- SEWA Marketing Support
- SEWA Bank
- SEWA Academy
- SEWA Bharat
- SEWA Accounts
  1. The Urban Union
1.1 Introduction

Ahmedabad City is the birthplace of SEWA, where it has been organising women workers from informal sector for the last 33 years. For the last 5 years it has adopted the Campaign Approach for Organising; and through the campaigns, it has so far organising self-employed women from number of trades where the women workers are not organised. The main approach is to solve work related issues & problems of as many women as possible; and to influence policy advocacy in the long run. This has not only helped strengthen the existing major trades but also provided a significant place and platform to small trades like bangle makers, sand filters, garland makers, etc


- Home Based Workers:
  Piece Rated Minimum wages
b.    Identity Cards
c.     Social Security
d.    Minimum wages for all the trades included in the category
e.    National Policy
- Labour and Service Providers
  Construction workers Campaign
b.    Head Loaders Campaign
c.     Small Factory workers
d.    Casual Workers
e.    Paper Pickers Campaign
- Street Vendors
  a     Space and License
b.    National and State Policy
c.     Family Identity Cards
- Integrated Approach
  a.    Insurance
b.    Health
c.    Savings

 SEWA: A Profile of Its Organization and Activities:

- SEWA Union
  a)  Urban Union


a)    Home based workers
b)    Increase stick rollers
c)     Readymade garment workers
d)    Vendors and Hawkers
e)    Head load workers
f)     Paper pickers
g)    Casual labourers and factory workers

Legal services
Legal training
  b) Rural Union
  Jeevika project

a)    Agriculture development
b)    Soil and water management
c)     Cattle and fodder development
d)    Promotion of gum collection
e)    Salt production
f)      Self-reliance through handcraft
g)    Minor credit facility
h)    Disaster preparation and prevention
i)      Social security
j)      Long term food security


a)    Forestation Campaign
b)    Water Campaign
- SEWA Gram Mahila Haat

Marketing support services

- SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre
  a)    Marketing support services for artisan’s products
b)    Provide National and International linkages for marketing of craft products
- SEWA Co-operatives
- SEWA Bank
  a) Financial counselling
b) Saving and fixed deposits
c) Credit to the members
- SEWA Academy
  a)  Training
b)  Literacy
c)  Research and policy development
d)  Communication through print and electronic media
- Video SEWA
- The Gujarat State Mahila SEWA Co-operative Federation Ltd.
  a)  Training and guidance services
b)  Marketing services
c)  Vegetable Shop
- SEWA Social Security
  a) SEWA health and child care
    - Health and midwives’ cooperatives
    - Health centers
    - Dispensaries
b) Housing and Shelter
c)  Insurance

Economic Activities:

- Midwives’ campaign
- Generating employment opportunity for member by forming micro enterprises
- Poverty alleviation programmes
- Marketing of craft products and other products like gum, salt etc.
- Capacity building trainings such as masonry training, hand pump repairing trainings
- Providing linkages with government welfare schemes

Support Services:

- Health care and child care
- Insurance
- Saving and credit
- Housing
- Water campaign
-   Forestry campaign
- Agriculture campaign
- Water campaign
- Disaster management activities
Sr. No. Details Members Activities
1 Employment    
  Vendors 8,693 Rs. 4,70,71,400/-
  Labourers 3,066 Rs. 2,97,75,738/-
  Home based 2,645 Rs. 1,11,00,100/-
  Shanta 257 Rs. 16,42,378/-
  Shantipath 755 Rs. 5,82,82,560/-
  Stable Employment 10 Rs. 2,16,000/-
  TOTAL 15,426 Rs. 14,80,88,176/-
2 Income    
  Vendors 8,246 Rs. 64,70,293/-
  Labourers 40,085 Rs. 4,04,91,154/-
  Home based 27,559 Rs. 1,01,66,367/-
  Shanta 257 Rs. 21,86,800/-
  Shantipath 330 Rs. 4,05,320
  TOTAL 76,477 Rs. 5,97,19,934/-
3 Ownership    
  Vendors 9,394 Rs. 57,51,000/-
  Labourers 14,201 Rs. 67,05,040/-
  Home based 13,559 Rs. 19,49,100/-
  Shanta 1,010 Rs. 4,53,91,978/-
  Shantipath 13 Rs. 59,475
  TOTAL 38,177 Rs.  5,98,56,593/-
4 Nutritious Food 8,234 Distributed 2,53,325 Kgs of food grains
5 Health 1,75,573 Sanitation of 345 Chawls
6 Child Care 13,112 Distribution of books, uniforms & vaccination
7 Housing 317 Rs. 5,90,000/-
8 Organizing    
  Vendors 2,56,397 15,016 meetings
  Labourers 1,21,535 21,407 meetings
  Home based 1,51,084 45,312 meetings
  Shanta 968  3,102 meetings
  TOTAL 5,29,984 84,837 meetings
9 Leadership    
  Vendors 68  
  Labourers 13,225  
  Home based 24,500  
  Shanta 50  
  TOTAL 37,843  
10 Self Reliant    
  Vendors 296  
  Labourers 16,302  
  Home based 12,825  
  Shanta 257  
  TOTAL 29,680  
11 Education 20,816  
  1.2 Activities Uudertaken
  The main activities undertaken by SEWA Union this year are as under

1) Bidi Rollers

There are about 1.5 lac bidi workers in Gujarat, of which, 15,000 are based in Ahmedabad city alone. There are bidi workers in small towns of North Gujarat as well, viz. Patan, Vijapur, Palanpur, Kheralu, Prantij, and Deesa. In Gujarat, all bidi rollers are piece-rate home-based workers. As per the law, bidi workers are entitled to provident fund. But till date, no bidi worker is getting it. As such, owners are ready to provide provident fund but at the same time, they are reluctant to offer the status of ‘employee’ to the bidi workers.

Sr. No.   Details No Of Members Benefited Amount (Rs.)
1 Employment 40 3,60,000
2 Income 4,333 34,89,800
3 Assets/Ownership/Wealth 6,527 2,45,000
4 Nutritious Food 25,150  
5 Health Care 610 1,500 meetings
6 Child Care 2  
7 Housing 110 28,60,000
8 Organised Strength 15,071 13,195 meetings
9 Leadership 500  
11 Education 725  

Work Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages 500 5,00,000
New Employment 40 3,60,000
Bonus 525 1,31,250
  2) Incense Stick Rollers
  More than 2000 incense stick workers of SEWA gathered at Mangal Bhuvan in Ahmedabad to celebrate the rise in wages for incense stick rolling and the implementation of the minimum wages act.

SEWA has unionised 10,157 women incense stick workers from the 20,000 women incense stick workers in Ahmedabad city. Each of these women sit for 8 to 12 hours and roll about 5000 to 6000 incense sticks and sell these to the incense stick manufacturers. However, the women got lower wages for their labour despite the Minimum Wages Act in the country. To inform the Labour Department of the state, SEWA conducted a survey of incense stick workers. SEWA had also been persistently holding talks with the Labour Department of Gujarat and the Association of Incense Sticks Manufacturers to raise the wages by 10 to 20 paise. Subsequently, in a tripartite meeting of manufacturers, labour department and SEWA it was decided to raise the wages and the minimum wages for incense stick rollers were fixed. After the official wage rise according to the Minimum Wages Act, the women incense stick workers are entitled to get Rs.7.50 for rolling 1000 oil-based incense sticks and Rs.7 for rolling 1000 water-based incense sticks.

Many women still get lesser wages despite the official fixing of Minimum Wages. The officials of the labour department were informed regarding this issue. They assured that if these issues are brought to their notice then they will see to the implementation of minimum wages for incense stick rolling. There are no minimum wages for nearly 20,000 agarbatti (incense stick) rollers in Ahmedabad. With the efforts of SEWA government undertook a time-motion study for deciding the minimum wages of incense stick rollers. Thereafter a three party committee was formed consisting of agarbatti owners, SEWA and the labour department. They put forward the request forward for fixing the minimum wages per 1000 agarbatti to Rs.6.50 (water based) and Rs.7/- (oil based). The government granted the request after a long time and declared the minimum wages for incense stick rollers. Through the discussions with labour department, owners and SEWA decision was made to increase the wages to Rs. 7/- (water based) and Rs. 7.50/- (oil based). A survey was conducted to ensure whether all the workers get wages as per the norms but it was revealed that only 30% get the increased wages, struggle is going on for the rest 70% to receive wages as per the norms. The owners, SEWA and labour union formed a three party committee thereafter which decided that per 1000 agarbatti rolled a minimum wage of Rs. 50/- for water based and Rs 7/- for oil-based. To find out whether the wage rise was truly implemented or not SEWA had conducted a survey. The results indicate that 60 percent manufacturers and owners had implemented the wage rise. The Labour Departments needs to undertake steps for the implementation of the wage rise in entire Ahmedabad. To improve the socio-economic conditions of these workers, a Tripartite Social Security Trust is being formed. The Labour Department is requested to contribute to this trust. The workers and the manufacturers will also give their contributions.
  3) Agriculture Labourers
  For the first time during the year 2004, urban union has started organising farm labourers in the nearby areas/ villages of the Ahmedabad city. Where 2000 women farm labourers are organized with continuous efforts.

Women gained information about laws pertaining to agriculture labourers through attending various meetings conducted for creating awareness among them. In co-ordination with the government the members were made aware that they are entitled to claim Rs. 50,000/- in case of snakebite, lightning and land slide.

During the year 3 camps were organized in different areas like Vatva, Vastral, Singarva and nearby villages. In these camps awareness was created regarding benefiting laws for farm labours. In these camps concerned government officials were invited and knowledge of different schemes, importance of identity cards and insurance was imparted. 300 members were provided SEWA’s Identity Card and 200 members got Identity Cards of Government.

This year SEWA Union of agricultural labourers in Ahmedabad city reached to a count of 2000 members. Also, the SEWA Union has formed new Trade Committee of Agriculture labourers.
  4) Other Home-Based Workers
  a) Kite Makers

During the year 700 kite makers earned Rs. 15,75,000/- through wage increment. For the benefit of the kite makers a time-motion study was conducted by joint effort of labour department and SEWA for fixing minimum wage for the kite makers. This study helped in determining a better wage rate for the kite makers that also helped them to earn better.

Sr. No. Details Number of Members Benefited Amount
1. Employment 23 49,473
2. Income 700 15,75,000
3. Assets/Ownership/Wealth 8  
4. Health Care 5  
5. Child Care 40  
6. Organised Strength 50,627  
7. Leadership 1,000  
8. Self-reliance 500  

Work Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages    
New Employment  23 49,473
Restarting work    
  b)Head Loader
  Head loaders are amongst SEWA’s oldest members. They had organised their own union; and after a long struggle, a Tripartite Board consisting of representatives of owners, workers and the government, was formed in 1980 to look into all the aspects of head loading. Head loaders from all over Ahmedabad city have been given place in the Board. The Board has issued identity card and provided social securities services including maternity benefits, health care, insurance and childcare.

During the year Police Commissioner published a public notice and announced ban on working hours between 9am to 8pm as a result 5000 women members organized a rally and met Police Commissioner that further lead to relaxation in timing.

Garment Board/Cloth Board distributed identity cards which were given to 50 women workers and along with that 2500 women were given bonus of Rs.12,52,500.

Work Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages 54  
New Employment - -
Bonus 2500 12,52,500
Restarting work - -


  c) Paper Pickers

SEWA has been organising paper pickers for more than 26 years. The closure of several textile mills had compelled many erstwhile mill workers to switch over to waste picking activity. As a result the membership base of the paper pickers has reached to 24,000 members.

During the year from 2nd February onward 350 Arogya Bhaginis of SEWA started collecting dry and wet garbage form 40,000 residences of Vejalpur Nagarpalika. For their work Nagarpalika has issued them identity cards and through this programme women have got regular employment. Owing to this programme each Arogya Bhagini and supervisor earn a remuneration of Rs. 300/- and Rs.30/- per month respectively. 350 women earned an income of Rs. 22,23,699/-.

Arogya Bhaginis are being praised for their contribution towards the society also this programme has generated regular employment for many members.

The Nagarpalika issued certificates for the appreciable contribution made by them and identity cards to the members. This year 350 women were issued identity cards.

SEWA members initiated the Bonus campaign with which 15,790 members received a bonus amounting to Rs.17,87,790.

 Year 2004 2003 2002
No. of Women 76,477 67,593 89,299
Income (in Rs.) 5,97,19,934 2,68,75,730 2,46,73,240

Sr. No. Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
1. Employment 1,814 71,56,958
2. Income 16,356 78,21,540
3. Assets/Ownership/Wealth 10,047 4,89,040
4. Nutritious Food - -
5. Health Care 6,000  
6. Child Care 1,120  
7. Housing 42 2,94,000
8. Organised Strength 37,936 9,482 meetings
9. Leadership 175  
10. Self-reliance 2,257  
11. Education 1,080  





Work Details No of members benefited Rs
Increase in Wages 4,555 44,40,000
New Employment 982 36,98,699
Bonus 15,790 17,87,790
Restarting work 132 3,91,850
  d) Labour & Service Providers

Manual labourers and service providers’ form the largest portion of SEWA’s workforce. Barring agriculture labourers of the rural areas, the workforce of manual labourers and service providers includes constructio

ard and a legal policy.

For last six years, SEWA has been actively organising construction workers. After 6 years struggle for legal provisions of the construction workers the G.O.G has passed the Law and Notification was also published and along with that a board will be formed.

I.T.I training that is approved by the government was given to 35 members helped them to enhanced their skills and became masons. This further led them to generate employment opportunities and thus earn income.Construction workers are always prone to many risks and with a view to protecting construction workers from frequent accidents, 3000 construction women have been covered under an insurance scheme of a private company ICICI Lombard. 67 women have also got accidental claims of Rs. 1,20,063.3000 women members were provided insurance under Accident Insurance Scheme, which gave them insurance cover under any accidents occurring at work place and thus providing more security as far as health

35 women were given masonry training that would lead to generation of employment opportunities for the members thus lead to income generation.

After a struggle of 6 years the government finally on date 18.08.03 framed laws pertaining to construction labourers and assured the formation of Board for the same.

Around 13,000 women members are there in catering business in Ahmedabad city itself.

Caterers have no laws pertaining to their work. Also they have only seasonal employment and even after working for long hours they earn a miniscule wage of Rs.50/- to Rs. 60/- only. During the year SEWA had approached government to launch a beneficiary program for these workers, and hence the government has taken up the survey work in this respect.

Also during the year SEWA and its members who are casual workers had discussions with the owners and contractors during Bonus Campaign, by which 2,510 women availed a bonus of Rs. 3,29,010.

Sr. No. Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
1. Employment 400 67,92,000
2. Income 774 1,07,54,800
3. Assets/Ownership/Wealth 269 1,57,000
5. Health Care 1,000  
7. Housing 1 20,000
8. Organised Strength 525 1,662 meetings
9. Leadership 2,000  
10. Self-reliance 2,000  
11. Education 30  

Work Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages 105 2,05,800
New Employment 200 31,92,000
Bonus 1,510 1,86,500
Restarting work 200 36,00,000

This year, 5000 women cleaners are organised with continuous efforts in the trade committee, which increased their strength substantially. The poor in the slums usually face problems like piling of garbage, filthy & insufficient number of toilets, overflowing drains, stagnant pools of polluted drinking water. Such unhygienic conditions spread disease and make their lives miserable. However, it is not the poor alone who face such problems and could be affected; those living in posh areas have realized that lack of cleanliness in one part of the city, could affect the health of entire city. More and more people are becoming aware of the impact of unsanitary surroundings on the health.

Through the Union women availed a bonus of Rs.1,31,250 during the year and also the Union facilitated 68 women to get government aid worth Rs.1,95,500.

Work Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages 7 28,800
New Employment 27 1,54,800
Bonus 301 1,31,250
Restarting work 11 75,000

SEWA has helped one contract labour woman to get her accident claim of Rs. 20,000 passed from the insurance company

3000 women got insurance claim under the accident insurance scheme. This year SEWA has increased urban membership of workers from new trades like tin cleaners, cement bag cleaners, plastic-paper sorter, iron scrap pickers and household workers. Total 6000 women have been organised from these trades.

Work Details No of members benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages 35 22,100
New Employment 25 3,57,500
Bonus 15 15,000
Restarting work 12 61,100

e) Factory workersFactory

workers’ Campaign started in the year 1988; since then, factory workers are being organized. Every month, the Committee discusses problems & issues of the Trade, in order to take specific corrective measures.

As a result of continuous legal trainings members’ have become aware and on struggling with contractors and owners of the factories for minimum wages, bonus, increment etc. this year around 164 women factory workers have got total increment of Rs. 1,10,448. Earlier they were just given a packet of sweets as a bonus, now as a result of Bonus Campaign 240 members got 8.33% bonus as per law.

As a result of continuous efforts and fight back against the contractors and owners of the factories for minimum wages, during the year 148 members got wage increment of Rs.3,17,060.
Bonus campaign was also taken up during the year by which the workers received a bonus of
Rs.3, 57,207 as per the norms of 8.33%.
During the year workers working at various factories formed new associations that helped them to be more organised and have collective strength which will lead to raising their voice for their demands at any level.

 Work Details No. Of Members Benefited Amount (Rs.)
Increase in Wages 164 1,10,448
New Employment 10 1,44,000
Bonus 291 2,89,057
Restarting work 9 1,37,280


Legal Cel

SEWA has adopted a campaign approach to reach more and more women workers of the unorganised sector. Women workers belonging to different trade have different sets of problems and issues. With increase in the membership more and more women worker members come out with their trade related problems/issues. This problems range from low wages, undue retrenchment, vending space to larger issues involving a large number of members concerning complicated law issues like bidi provident fund, minimum wages etc. It is very important that women members understand this problems/issue and try to find a solution to this. It is very necessary that they understand the provisions of law regarding the problems and issues faced by them. This is a step forward in building their capacity and making them self-reliant. There fore the legal cell focus mainly on the following issues:1. Identifying legal issues and problems faced by women workers of unorganized sector.
2. Imparting legal training to its members, leaders and organizers to create awareness regarding their rights under
3. Complain Centre where members can file their trade related problems.
4. Co-ordinate with the State and Central Government for formation of legislation, policy for unorganised sector workers and for better implementation of existing labour laws.
5. Advocating at all levels of Jurisdiction to avail rights of the women worker members.
6. Lobbying with other unions working with the unorganised sector for the formation of legislation for unorganised sector workers.
7. Legal Publications

Major Activities

62 legal trainings were conducted during January-04 to December-04 in which 1485 members took part.

Sr. No. Particulars No. Of Trainings Conducted No. Of Members Participated
1. Paper Pickers 8 191
2. Vendors 8 209
3. Construction Laborers’ 5 133
4. Head Loaders 2 47
5. Incense Stick Makers 4 102
6. Kite Makers 6 118
7. Garment Workers 4 77
8. Agriculture Workers 3 72
9. Other Home based Workers 4 112
10. Other labour and Service Providers 14 335
11. Embroidery workers 4 89
  Total 62 1485

Legal trainings were conducted on the current policies and legislation related to day to day issues of the workers.

This year legal camps were held for the agricultural workers members. 3 such legal camps were held and 700 members participated in these legal camps. In these legal camps officers of labour and employment department participated. They explained in depth the provisions of Agricultural Workers Act, Minimum wages, Importance of identity card, and welfare schemes run by the government.

Response given to legal trainings by members: -

Raziabanu Pathan, Jubedabanu, Shaidabanu, leaders of home-based workers and a agarbatti roller themselves, under took a legal training and came to know that by a tripartite agreement between Labour and employment department, Representatives of Employers/contractors and SEWA minimum wages of rolling 1000 Incense stick are Rs. 6.50 of water based and Rs.7.00 for oil-based. They also came to know that legally the employers/contractors are bound to pay the minimum wages and if they do not get the minimum wages they can complain to the labour department. The employer/contractor in their area did not pay the minimum wages. They organised all the women workers of their area and approached the employer/contractor and asked him to pay the minimum wages. The employer/contractor refused. The women said that they will file complain to this effect in Labour department. The employer/contractor relented and agreed to pay the minimum wages.
Gomatben and Niruben leaders of labour and service providers undertook the legal training. They came to know that they have right to get bonus and about the provisions of the factory act. They also learnt the provisions of the bonus act pertaining to the amount of bonus and the number of working days. They went to their areas talked to the employers of different factories and could provide bonus of 50000 to 500 workers. Similarly 15 to 20 women workers worked in the acid factory for 10 to 12 years, but still they were considered daily wages and were paid Rs.35/- per day. The leaders negotiated with the employers to treat these workers as the permanent workers and pay them accordingly or else they will file complain with the labour department. After much negotiation the employer relented and agreed to treat this workers as the permanent employees. Now they get all the benefits and wage of Rs.82/- per day.
Hiriben and Gangaben are leaders of vendor members. They also undertook the legal trainings. They came to know about the police act. They say that earlier police used to call them bad works and kicked them snatched their goods and misbehaved with them. Now they do not tolerate this type of behaviour from the police and tell the police officers that they have no right to behave with them in this manner.
Self Employed Women's Association
SEWA Reception Centre, Opp. Victoria Garden, Bhadra, Ahmedabad - 380 001. India.
Phone : 91-79-25506444 / 25506477 / 25506441, Fax : 91 - 79 - 25506446, Email
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