Self Employed Women’s Association  
Self Employed Women’s Association
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Globalisation and Women in the Informal Economy
SEWA’s Responses

Globalisation and the policies of economic liberalisation have come to dominate the national and international debate both at the economic and political level. The debate on the issues concerning globalisation seem to be polarized with some groups seeing it as leading to growth and development and the way out of poverty, and other groups seeing it as leading to more misery and impoverishment. In SEWA we are also very much concerned with the forces which have been released by globalisation and liberalisation.

SEWA has a membership of nearly 700,000 members all of whom are women in the informal economy in all rural and urban sectors of work, and we see many changes in their lives, some positive some negative, which are connected with larger changes in the economy and society. In a way SEWA is a microcosm of the informal economy in India, and dealing with the changes in the lives of the SEWA members gives a direction on how it can be done at an economy-wide and policy level.


We have tried to systematically explore the links between changes in the women’s lives at a micro-level and the larger macro policies and trends. SEWA has tried to actively deal with these changes by strengthening the members to take advantage of openings in the economy available to them, and resisting changes which are harmful. At the same time we have tried to influence policy at the macro-level in favour of the workers and producers in the informal economy.

In a paper that brings together some of the findings from SEWA’s research studies three key consequences of globalisation were explored—a lagging behind of the productivity and wages of the unskilled as a result of global and national technical progress; an increased vulnerability and insecurity in the new market and trade oriented world, despite significant benefits of these same trends; and a decrease in bargaining power of unskilled workers as a result of the greater mobility of capital and skilled labor.

  In order to deal with these consequences SEWA is working on four key strategies
  organising of women into membership based like trade unions, co-operatives, associations.
  capacity building which includes both technical as well managerial skills
  capital formation in their own names either individually or preferably collectively in their groups and organisations
  social security including access to health care, child care, insurance, housing and old age benefits.

At the same time SEWA is actively undertaking research to continually trace the effects on its members, and is actively influencing policy in their favour.

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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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