|WE, THE SELF EMPLOYED |
SEWA'S electronic newsletter
SEWA Bihar Launched: 1st General Meeting in Bhagalpur
18 Bomb Blasts Strike Ahmedabad
18 bomb blasts struck Ahmedabad on the 26th of July, all in public places, killing 54 people and injuring about 120. The most deadly blast happened in the trauma ward of the Civil hospital as the victims from other blasts began to come in for treatment. Most sadly, all the bombs were placed in the working class areas of Ahmedabad and most of the people who died or were injured were workers. At least 20 of those killed or injured were from families of SEWA members â€“ families of construction workers, vendors and service providers in Ahmedabad.
The immediate effect of the blasts was a sense of fear that covered the city. People were afraid to send their children to school, afraid to go out to social occasions and afraid to go to work. This especially affected many SEWA members as the bombs had gone off in their areas fairly close to where they live or work. SEWA members' employment has been affected badly, especially certain groups. The worst affected were paper pickers and rag collectors, who were instructed to stay away from garbage piles, which could have been concealing a bomb.
SEWA leaders and members reacted as soon as they heard about the bombs. SEWA leaders fanned out in the areas to find out about injuries, to take people to hospital, and to make sure they got the best treatment. Individual SEWA members too reacted immediately to help--for example, one SEWA member who was visiting a relative in Civil hospital when the blast took place, immediately took up a collection from her relatives and ran to buy medicines for the injured.
SEWA leaders took the message that all its members should be calm and make sure there was no violence in their areas. We had meetings in the Shanti Path (Way of Peace) centres of SEWA where Hindu and Muslim members discussed the incident. One member said, " In these blasts both Hindus and Muslims have died. The terrorists have no religion--they are anti-people. We must get together and defeat their designs of dividing us".
SEWA at the World Health Assembly
WHO also invited SEWA in 2005 to be a member of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health, a special commission to identify how to bridge inequalities in health status through an integrated, multi-sectoral approach. SEWAâ€™s successes in addressing the underlying determinants of health â€“ through efforts such as organising, providing financial services and ensuring integrated social security â€“ have been appreciated and promoted at the global level through this Commission.
Research Findings: How Empowered Have SEWAâ€™s Sisters Become?
The main objective of this study in 2007 was to measure how the socioeconomic status, individual development, and strength/capacities of SEWAâ€™s grassroots leaders have changed after joining SEWA. The findings indicate where SEWA has indeed impacted on the lives of women â€“ and provide insight into the obstacles that must be overcome to support the development of future leaders. Researchers conducted the study amongst a sample of 150 elected SEWA representatives in Ahmedabad city.
Major findings indicate that a large majority of SEWA leaders have availed of SEWAâ€™s services. 83% have bank accounts in SEWA Bank, of which over 1/2 have taken a loan. Notably, 77% of women took loans for housing improvements. 69% of women are insured by VimoSEWA, and 45% have benefited from SEWAâ€™s health services.
The study found that 70% of SEWAâ€™s leaders are educated â€“ and those not educated indicated that after joining SEWA, they learned critical skills such as signing oneâ€™s own name, reading bus numbers and managing accounts. Almost all â€“ 94% -- are currently educating their own children. And in a sign of the depth of Indiaâ€™s technological revolution, 89% use a mobile phone. 3% of leaders know how to use a computer, which is likely to increase in the next generation.
Womenâ€™s development and decision making power certainly has increased, as reflected in their stated capacity to engage with local political leaders and government agencies to advocate for community needs and employment-related issues. Women also related an improvement in decision-making power, particularly related to social traditions and financial matters. 60% of women felt that after joining SEWA, their respect in the family has increased.
Overall, the study findings reflect that SEWA has served as a multi-leveled platform for the advancement of women in the informal sector. From improving their own employment opportunities to facilitating savings and credit, SEWAâ€™s members indeed have become part of the empowerment process.
Workshop on Home Based Workers in Bihar: ISST, HomeNet India and Bihar Home Based Workers Union
The Impact of SEWAâ€™s Child Care Centres
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