Where Women are Leaders is a narrative history of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) the 40,000-strong union of India's poorest women which has increasingly become an inspiration to and living example of a new development model relevant to low-income women worldwide. SEWA's unique organizing tactics focus on the poorest and most vulnerable women in Indian society - those who are self-employed or working in the informal sector and who have been marginalized by mainstream development strategies. Ela Bhatt, SEWA's founder and inspiration for two decades, and other long-standing members and organizers reveal the process of organizing for social change. Small inputs, SEWA's experience shows, can bring about significant socio-economic changes; and a strategy of combining union organizing with the formation of cooperatives, supported by childcare and health services as well as access to credit through a women's bank, can transform the lives of even the very poorest women.
This work traces SEWA's work from its initial organizing of women around basic wage and credit issues to its subsequence research and lobbying activists on larger development policy questions and its current national and international influence on employment and resource strategy. It integrates accounts of the exploitation, abuse and brutality unorganized women experience at the hands of the 'bosses', traders and the police, with interviews with the women responsible for the creative organizing SEWA has done; and analysis of the models SEWA has developed to serve its members both in Ahmedabad, where it first started, and elsewhere in the country.
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(220mm x 132mm x 18mm)
Zed Books Ltd
Publisher: Zed Books Ltd
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Author Biography - Kalima Rose
Kalima Rose was educated at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1986 to 1991 she was a freelance writer on Indian women's issues for Mother Jones, Economic Times and the North-South News Service as well as a consultant to the Ford Foundation and Population Council. Ela Bhatt asked her to write this account after she had spent a year and a half working with SEWA in Ahmedabad. She is currently Managing Editor of the MS Foundation's journal, Equal Means, and works at the Centre for Ethics and Social Policy in Berkeley.