SEWA Annual General Meeting December 2011



The SEWA Annual General Meeting is a two-day gathering of the SEWA elected representatives or pratinidhis. This year the AGM also elected the new SEWA Karobari or executive committee 1·.

The 4011 SEWA representatives were greeted by Ms. Namrat Bali, Director of SEWA Academy, and Managing Trustee of the Indian Academy for Self Employed Women, the host of the meeting at its Manipur Campus.

SEWA 2011
Shri Jyotiben, General Secretary welcomed everyone present. She presented the Annual SEWA report as follows:

SEWA Rural: SEWA Rural has membership of over 5 lakh.. There is a constant rise in the membership of Sanskar Kendras. Currently, there are 50 Sanskar Kendras. During past 3 decades 70000 sisters have become widows in Sri Lanka. Under Self Reliance programme, 111 master trainers were developed to provide skill development and livelihood oriented trainings to sisters. This includes IT, Food Processing, Farming school, etc. Vanlaxmi cooperative, Green House Centre needs to be promoted further. SEWA Manager ni School developed 8034 managers through management trainings, which is known as Mini-MBA. All 4 associations Kutch, Surendranagar, Anand and Bodeli have become 100 % self reliance.

Agriculture Campaign: Through our agriculture campaign we reached 400 villages. The farmers were provided information about different crop prices, so that they are aware about the market rates of various crops. 1,25,000 farmers received higher prices.

Green Energy and Green Livelihoods: 2 lakhs women took benefit of stove and solar light. Our sisters availed loan of 80 crores for the same. Our 18,000 member’s houses brightened with solar light.

The successful work of Hansiba and Unnat Bazaar led to 3.5 crore sales. Rudi has reached to Africa and Nepal. Rudi has become success in Mali, Africa and many other countries. There has been production of 1.5 crores. 200 villages benefit from the work of step well and hand pump.

SEWA Urban: This year was full of struggle for SEWA Urban union. There was decline in employment and income. There is 50% reduction of work in stitching. We initiated 2 shops of thread. Bidi Workers received price rise, incense stick makers received Rs. 5/- price rise. Now for 1000 incense stick they receive Rs. 13/-. Through Racheta cooperative 300 sisters earned income of Rs. 9,54,586. Diamond workers received bonus and prices increased. Tripartite board was formed for head loaders. They received success in price rise after much struggle. They receive Rs. 35/- per parcel instead of Rs. 20/-. Door to door rag picking stopped, the struggle is ongoing for the same. To overcome this challenge, sisters were provided training of making stationeries. We received many external orders for the same. We networked with organizations like Be connected and Staple. This led to income generation for 80 women. Biometric survey of 87,000 people was conducted. Lastly, 1,15,018 sisters earned income of Rs. 4,11,67,467/-. 23,000 women registered for Aadhaar Card. 12,436 women participated in Shantipath Centres.

SEWA Bank: It was a year of growth for SEWA Bank. The total accounts are 4,25,000 and total deposits are Rs. 1,12,63,88,619. The working capital is Rs. 16,48,39,429. The loan of Rs. 52,01,06,000 was disbursed. Over 25,000 women took ATM. 65,000 women saved Rs. 11 crores as pension. Loans were provided for various services like Saral Group Scheme, Housing loan, Solar light, fan, etc. 2.5 lakh women benefited from Financial Literacy trainings. Along with Vasna, Sanand and Mota Chiloda there are total 7 branches.

Social Security
Health: Health services reached to 31,388 people. Through 178 camps, 12,936 people were reached. TB treatments were provided to 2978 patients and there were no deaths due to TB. The sale of medicines was Rs. 3,16,77,683 and the sale of ayurvedic medicines was Rs. 16,45,000.

Insurance: This year 49,578 members provided premium of Rs. 78,71,436. The claim of Rs. 1,04,52,489 was disbursed to 3,847 members. Vimo SEWA’s work is ongoing at Namibia, Africa.

Bal SEWA (Child Care): The Child care services reached 4899 children. Through health, 310 sisters were provided employment of Rs. 55 lakh. The work of implementing 5 new government schemes is ongoing in rural and urban areas.

SEWA Academy: Total 385 trainings were conducted by SEWA Academy. 10,812 members were developed under various trainings. Research was conducted on 19 topics. In 175 Literacy Classes, 3500 women became literate. 700 adolescent girls joined 45 Akashganga Clubs. 9011 women were reached under literacy campaign. 7076 were reached through mobile van in various areas where along with awareness generation on various topics information about SEWA was shared. 544 Video Replays were organized which reached 7291 people. Total 18 video and photography trainings were conducted in which 406 women participated. Rudi no Radio broadcasted 2624 programmes. Radio received two CEMCA Awards. Total 23 issues of Anasooya were published, which reached 4187 readers. 192 writing trainings were organized by Anasooya for members so that they can contribute articles in Anasooya.

Housing and Infrastructure: Mahila Housing Trust: The work of Mahila Housing Trust is ongoing in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi, Surat, and Vadodara. Over 100,000 households have been reached with toilets. In Ahmedabad, 5678 houses and in other cities 1708 houses were built. Through Karmika, construction workers training school, 509 women earned income of Rs. 23,82,120.

Federation: 82 trainings were organized for 103 cooperatives in which 2182 women participated. Fish vending sisters of Matsyagandha cooperative received vending space at Chamanpura under bridge. Total sales of Federation was of Rs. 26,75,152. The sales through Shop no. 40 was of Rs. 54,22,786. The income of 1 lakh per 1 crore was earned.

SEWA Bharat: This year four main things achieved were:

1. Savings and Loan: 13,462 women saved Rs. 3 crores this year. Total loans of Rs. 2.67 crores were disbursed. 2843 savings account were opened at Almora, Uttarakhand and Rs. 36,60,000 were saved. The women of Delhi, Bareilly, Munger, and Bhagalpur received employment. 957 women earned income of Rs. 28,27,000.
2. Education: Polytechnic school is initiated in Delhi. 400 children were linked with education. 700 children were linked with formal schools.
3. Government Schemes: 4368 people were facilitated to avail RSBY Cards. 3000 members were linked with different government schemes.
4. Water: Water is one of the key issues for women. At the moment women groups are being formed. More work is in progress on this issue.

Challenges: SEWA has always welcomed challenges and struggled to pass through the same.

1. Inflation: Discussion on step ahead. Income increases but along with income, prices are ever rising. Due to which daily life is being adversely affected.
2. Recently, discussion on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) was conducted. This issue directly affect informal sector. There is serious effect on agriculture and small businesses.
3. Save Land campaign is one of the biggest challenges. Many researches were conducted on this topic which was discussed last year. The work on the same is ongoing.
4. In 2008, we became National Trade Union. The rules of 4 states, 4 businesses (agriculture being compulsory), 5 lakhs membership, etc are being followed. Recently, the rules of National Trade Union has changed, in which now 8 states, and 8 lakhs membership is compulsory. The membership of SEWA are in accordance with the new rules but for state representation, registration of SEWA in 8 states is compulsory. We have initiated dialogues with National Trade Union on this line. Besides, we are also in the process of registration in other states.
5. What is the future of next generation? We have to engage in discussions on the same. At international level, working for Home based Workers in SAARC countries with HomeNet South Asia is ongoing.

International: At international level, SEWA is member of ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation). It is indeed a matter of pride that SEWA is elected in its Executive Committee. Shikha Joshi, Madhya Pradesh is elected as Vice-President of Asia Pacific Region.

  • SEWA is elected in IUF (International Union of Food).

  • The law for Domestic Workers is enacted by ILO (International Labour Organization). The process of implementing the same in our country is ongoing.

SEWA Elections
Over 4000 representatives elected a new executive committee of 25 members.
For full description click here: SEWA Elections

SEWA Theme 2011- Work and Peace
Every year there is a discussion on one theme by the women present. This year’s theme was work and peace. Namrata Bali initiated the discussion on work and peace, and shared that SEWA is linked with work. And if there is peace at home and in society then we can engage in good work. There are many definitions of peace. Other countries have praised our work which is a way to peace. Niwano Peace Prize to Shri Elaben Bhatt is the biggest example. Our work conveys the message of peace. SEWA has always believed and chosen the path of peace. We have Shantipath centres in various areas. Women have always remained as example of peace for family and society. We will discuss, when we feel at peace.

Kapilaben, Agriculture worker: My sister, the truth is, we never have peace in life. If all our sisters have employment then we feel at peace. If there is work throughout the year then there is peace. Earlier, I used to engage in stitching work but I didn’t have sufficient work. Then, I joined SEWA as team leader. I educated my daughters. I engage in seasonal agriculture work. Now, I get full employment throughout the year. With full employment women are at peace.

Rajiben, Paper picker: To maintain and understand peace is difficult. SEWA solves all problems through peace. My work of paper picking requires much patience. At times there are conflicts with godown owners but we always try to solve them through peaceful means. Violence is not a solution to any problem. To maintain peace is in our hands. Peace makes change possible.

Shantaben Patni, Secretary, Matsyagandha cooperative: We linked women with employment by organizing in Saurashtra. We face many struggles while organizing, which we solve through peaceful ways. There were many struggles to acquire vending space for Fish vendors of Matsyagandha cooperative under Chamunda Bridge. Today, we can see women vending peacefully under the bridge.

Husnaben: I work as team leader for insurance since past 7 years. My husband died leaving two children’s responsibilities on me. I feel at peace after I associated with SEWA.

Gauriben Parmar, Bal SEWA: I am with SEWA since past 20 years. The link between work and peace is similar to life and breath. If there is work, there is peace. I was married in village, were I used to work in farm. I educated for Montessori course. I felt agitated thinking about old age when I would no longer be able to work in farm. After birth of my daughter, I joined Bal SEWA. I not only received work but also peace.

Kamlaben, Radhanpur: Peace and SEWA are connected to each other. During earthquake, SEWA came to our rescue, and we felt peace. We feel at peace in SEWA. We organized being associated with SEWA and also received employment. To obtain peace, one should follow the steps of SEWA.

Shri Elaben Bhatt: Today, we have selected the topic of Peace. Why Peace? It is usually the old who want peace, but our organization is young, then why did it remember peace now? For SEWA, peace means work. There is no peace without work. Shri Elaben Bhatt gave example of Bachiben who engaged in embroidery work. Bachiben had some tension with her husband. Her husband punished her and took away her embroidery work. Bachiben was very disturbed. When women engage in stitching, embroidery, bidi making work they are engrossed and they forget agony and pain. Bachiben was miserable as her embroidery was taken away. She substituted embroidery by tattoing her legs, day and night. So where is peace? Peace is not having gadgets and facilities. Peace is related with mind. We should always fight injustice. When dispute converts in struggles, it becomes revolution. If we accept injustice, peace can never prevail. To retain peace and equality, work is vital. Love and sympathy are tools to achieve justice. Love and Peace can facilitate the growth of SEWA family. Women engage in organizing work and trades, whereas, men engage in management work and high-handedness. But women has struggled and come out as a winner. Peace doesn’t mean being inactive but to fight for justice. Justice can be achieved with peace, love and non-violence. Women understand work and peace. Motherhood, care, affection are integral in women. Women have unique positivity in them. The prime example is of SEWA’s Shanta sisters. No work is superior or inferior. The level of lawyer and barber is same. The need of everyone is same in the society. Our work contributes in the progress of society. Everyone has work on hand, and this work has growth and peace within it. SEWA engages in such work which reduces debt, increases savings, and access to learn new things. All religion talks about peace. Truth, Non-violence, Peace and Love are in the roots of Hindustan (India). If we all hold each other’s hand, we can create our dream society. We are already heading on the footsteps. Lastly, Elaben sang a song on peace in which everyone joined.

Jyotiben Macwan: Peace follows after struggle. Work and peace are interconnected. Now, we have to take our peace talks in other countries. SEWA is trying to establish peace in countries which is passing through conflicts. We are working in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Kashmir.

Reemaben Nanavaty: If mind is at peace then only there can be peace in home, village and society. It is difficult, but we are working on it. The people living in conflict areas do not know anything about peace. Afghanistan was attacked thrice and once there was a bomb blast too. We are working there with 5000 sisters. We are also working in Sri Lanka at Jaffna, Batticaloa, and Vavuniya. The condition of women is very bad due to 3 decades of persistent war. There are around 80,000 widows that too they are not more than 28 years of age. Sri Lanka is rich with lot of vegetations like pineapple, rice, and other coastal vegetation but has no electricity. We will initiate solar energy. We have already initiated computer, mobile and stitching work for young generation.

The SEWA organizers and members who are working in difficult conditions in Afganistan and Sri Lanka to bring peace through work were facilitated.

The AGM concluding by slogans vowing that we will soon reach a membership of 25 lakhs.


1· Although nationally SEWA has over 13,00,000 members; this AGM was for the primary union Swashrayi Mahila SEWA Sangh (SEWA) with its members in Gujarat, with about 8,00,000 members. This primary union, also takes members outside Gujarat in States where a separate local SEWA Union is not yet registered. So this year, apart from Gujarat the pratinidhis came from Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand and West Bengal, but they were small in number.



Back To SEWA

Vendors at the annual meeting selling clothes and bags
Team Leader distributing food packets during election
Applauds for new committee members
Confluence of new and old Committee members
SEWA’s new Executive Committee members
Welcoming new members with dance, flowers and standing ovation
Shri Elaben Bhatt talks about Work and Peace
First light with Secular Prayer
In rapt attention for 2011 report
Electing the members
SEWA’s first General Secretaries and Secrteraies
Members taking the oath