Over 60% of the world’s employed population earn their livelihood working in the informal economy, with the issue being more predominant in developing countries. Globally, informal work is a greater source of employment for men than women, 60% and 58% respectively. Despite this, women are more often found in the more vulnerable categories of work, for instance as domestic workers or self-employed home-based workers.
Women working in the informal economy face a number of structural constraints which prevent them from accessing well-paid jobs. With women often bearing the issues of unpaid childcare and domestic work, they may have little choice but to take on low-quality jobs that allow them to attend to these care responsibilities.
Working in the informal sector leaves women without any protection of labour laws, social benefits such as pension, health insurance or paid sick leave. They routinely work for lower wages and in unsafe conditions, including risk of sexual harassment.
Founded by Ela Bhatt in 1972, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) works to empower poor women in India’s informal economy by equipping them with the personal confidence, community support, and practical tools necessary to fulfill their needs and exercise their rights. With over 2 million active members across fifteen states, SEWA is a nationwide movement, as well as one of India’s largest and oldest nonprofit organizations.
SEWA is set apart by its ability to integrate state- and national-level strategies with grassroots values and priorities. Through its close ties to an extensive, diverse, and multigenerational network of members, SEWA brings women together into a supportive network, tailors its wide range of large-scale development programs to specific community needs at the local level, and provides both capacity building support and a national platform for women on the ground to voice their concerns and advocate for their rights at the highest levels of policy and industry. Through its philosophy of women’s empowerment, and its vision of securing self-reliance and full employment for one of India’s most vulnerable populations, SEWA unifies members across cultural, geographic, and linguistic lines to bring about sustainable, inclusive change from the ground up. Comprised of a nationwide network of over 100 autonomous grassroots organizations, SEWA is coordinated by its national office, SEWA Bharat.
IIT has formed a partnership with SEWA Bharat to secure the funds needed for the continued delivery of their successful work.
Integrity International Trust is a registered charity (number 1176502), registered in England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee (number 11121606) whose registered office is at 10 Queen Street Place, London, United Kingdom, EC4R 1BE.