SEWA
Self Employed Women’s Association
 
 
May 2007
 
  A Women Workers May Day
  Inauguration of Energy Park
  SEWA Orientation Training conducted at Bikaner
  SEWA Women in Spain
  Sports day
  Supreme Court Judgment on Street Vendors
A Women Workers May Day
May Day celebrates a women workers rally held 116 years ago. SEWA carried on this tradition this year by holding rallies and dharnas of its members. Leading upto May Day, a delegation of unorganised workers’ organizations, including leaders of SEWA from different parts of the country, Baba Adhav of Hamal Panchayat, Swacch, the network of waste collectors, NASVI, the network of street vendors and others gathered in Delhi to demand for Social Security for the Unorganised Workers. The Delegation went to parliament and handed over memorandums to the Chief Whips of all parties and the leaders of National Trade Unions. The Labour Minister met the delegation and promised to bring the Bill to Parliament at the earliest.

May Day was celebrated in Ahmedabad by large Sabha (meeting) of members who passed a resolution demanding social security. The meeting was also addressed by Mr. Haridasan, director, ICFTU-APRO.
Excerpt from May Day Resolution
Today is the 116th year of the May Day, the international Labour Day. On this day, we the unorganized women workers members of Self Employed Women’s Association resolved that this year, we will struggle for the enactment of the Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Bill.

It is unfortunate that in spite of the mandate of the Government and in spite of the great need of 37 crore workers, the Government of India has not yet introduced this important Unorganized Sector Workers Social Security Bill into Parliament. So many promises have been made to us, but whereas the benefits of more privileged sections of society, is going up, we, the unorganized workers are not cared for.

We demand that social security should include, every worker of the unorganised sector should at least get a identity card a minimum health care, insurance, maternity benefit, scholarship benefits for the children and pensions.

We resolve today on the 1 May, the International Labour Day that in this 60th year of India’s independence we will struggle to get Bill for Social Security of Unorganised workers introduces into Parliament and to get it passed within six months. We also urge the Government to make suitable financial allocations in the next financial year to ensure that we, the workers in the unorganized sector receive a fair and just social security and ensure justice to likes of us.
The SEWA members of Madhya Pradesh had a more agitated May Day. Although the Government had set up a Board for Construction Workers after a long agitation by SEWA, the Board was refusing to register genuine workers and corruption had come into the registration process. The workers took out a rally to the office of the Labour Commissioner shouting slogans--- ‘Hamara Haq do’ (Give us our rights)     ‘Bhrashtachar nahi chalega’ (Corruption will not be tolerated), ‘Bheekh nahi adhikar chahiye’ (We don't want charity, we demand our rights).

On reaching the Commissioner the women staged a dharna and handed over a memorandum. They gheraoed the Commissioner until he agreed to meet their demands.
Excerpt from Memorandum of Construction Workers
93 thousand construction workers in 15 districts are members of SEWA. Since year 2000 SEWA M.P. has been trying to draw the attention of State Govt. to the problems of construction workers. The State Govt. Welfare Board has been set up and operates several welfare schemes.

Our Union volunteered all kind of cooperation to you but
  1. No identity cards have not been made for the last 10 months.
  2. The Labour Dept. is issuing identity cards but not for members of SEWA M.P.
  3. SEWA M.P. wanted to know the reason for it but they are not given any clear reply.
  4. We told this problems to labour minister and labour dept. but there is hasn't been any solution.
  5. 2000 workers of Indore alone have filled the forms for I-cards; more than 400 forms have been submitted in the Labour Dept. and workers are demanding the same repeatedly.
Today on the occasion of May Day the construction workers who are members of SEWA  have gathered here to protest.
Inauguration of Energy Park
SEWA Bank and SEWA Academy launched an Energy Park for women based on solar energy and biogas, first of its type in India. The Energy Park displayed solar-power and bio gas and its use to self-employed women and will serve as a model for women to learn how to use these forms of energy.

Women street vendors showed how the use of solar lamps had increased their earnings as they could now sell till late at night. Mid wives, have a specially designed lamp which enables them to deliver women in homes which do not have electricity. Many women explained how installing solar lights in their homes allowed their children to study and do well in school. Even garment workers have been using solar energy to save costs on electricity while running their sewing machines. The smokeless chulha (stove) was a great hit among the women. Many women have installed smokeless chulhas which use wood or charcoal outside or inside their homes. Solar energy and bio-gas has become a means of earning livelihood for some women.

The chulha makers earn Rs. 100 per chulha, while other earn Rs. 10 per lamp per day by hiring out their solar lamps to street vendors. Harishbhai Hande, Managing Director of SELCO Company that designs solar lamps said that “ There is no pollution with solar energy. In villages midwives still use candles and kerosene lamps, we are trying to introduce them to solar lamps”

Elaben Bhatt, Founder of SEWA said, “This is women SEZ Solar Economy Zone. The SEWA Bank has introduced a special loan for use of non-polluting energy, and we believe that women will adopt this on a large scale”.
SEWA Orientation Training conducted at Bikaner
Four days training on SEWA Orientation   was organized and conducted by SEWA Academy for the staff and leaders of the of SEWA’s sister organizations. As the work of SEWA expended the number of people working has also increased. So this training was organized for the second line cadre's  so that they can get detail information about the organization is which they are working.

The topics covered in this training programme were threats and challenges of women workers of unorganized sector, crisis and challenges-Gujarat experience, goal, value and eleven principles of SEWA, social security of SEWA, handling crisis and challenges-Madhya Pradesh experience, Tripartite board, team building, advantages of micro-finance to women, production and marketing issues in SEWA, marketing strategy, preparation of action plan, thereafter certificates were also distributed.
 
SEWA Women in Spain
The SEWA Trade Facilitation Center held a special fashion show in Spain. SEWA TFC had designed western clothes with the traditional colours and stitches of Patan and Kutcch, and we were proud to see the Spanish models demonstrating these clothes and local people buying them.
 
Sports day
SEWA celebrated sports day on at Ahmedabad in which women came from all areas of work. Self employed women are so much engaged in their work and in earning that they do not have time to relax or have a good time. This was a chance when women were able to run and jump and enjoy themselves without their family members criticizing them. They played different types of games, which included 100-meter race, musical chair, potato race, lemon in spoon, breaking pots, tug of war, and finding chocolate, in which women of different ages from 20 years to 55 years took part.
Supreme Court Judgment on Street Vendors
The Supreme Court passed orders on 17th May 2007 in a case in street vendors in Delhi. It said that the Municipality should implement the National Policy on Street Vendors. However, it forbid street foods as it said that there should be no cooking on the streets. SEWA represented by senior counsel, Indira Jaisingh, was a party to the case on behalf of its members who sell in Weekly markets. The judge responded positively to SEWA’s arguments. He agreed on the need for weekly markets and laid down the rules by which such markets should be run. He also agreed to SEWA’s request for special markets for women and for the “old book bazaar”.
 
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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 :mail@sewa.org
     
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