Since its inception, SEWA has been working hard at the various government levels through strong advocacy and campaigning to protect the rights of the members; which over a period of years has led to recognition of tremendous economic and social contribution at various levels i.e. district/city, state, national and international government, organizations, trades etc. – thus resulting into inclusion in policy and legislation. Some of the note-worthy achievements of SEWA’s strong lobbying and advocacy are:

International Level

Global Commission on Future of Work

Recognizing the efforts of SEWA in organizing and empowering the women workers from the informal sector in India and the Global South, The International Labor Organization had nominated SEWA as a commissioner on the high level Global commission on Future of Work, launched in August 2017 as a part of its centenary celebration. Over the course of 18 months, the commission met for several rounds of discussion and the commission came out with a report, which was launched in Geneva on the 22nd Jan 2019.

The theme of the report and several recommendations; especially those in context of the rural workers and the informal workers, resonate with SEWA’s advocacies and philosophy of Anuband: Building an economy of Nurturance.

SEWA and the ILO

SEWA’s relations with ILO are very old; especially on informal economy related policy advocacy works. Some of the important areas where SEWA has closely worked with ILO are:

  • 1996 – ILO’s C177 – Home workers conventions,
  • C189 – Domestic Workers Conventions
  • recommendations for supply chains,
  • Recommendations for Formalizing the Informal Economy,
  • Several working groups on rural workers, construction workers and informal workers and many more.

National Level

  • The Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 : Lobbied rigorously for 25 years. In 2003 the Central Government invited SEWA to be a member of the Second National Commission on Labor to draft the first ever umbrella legislation for workers in the unorganized sector.
  • National Commission on Enterprises in the Unorganized/ Informal Sector : Member of Advisory Committee
  • Representation in Central Level committees on
    • (1) National Advisory Committee for Minimum Wages,
    • (2) National Social Security Board,
    • (3) National Advisory Council
  • Representation in Working groups and Committees of the Planning Commission with various Ministries
    • (1) Micro and Small Enterprises
    • (2) Rural Development
    • (3) Weaving
    • (4) Skill Development
    • (5) National Social Security
    • (6) Minimum Wages etc.
    • (7) Key Resource Centrer of Water
  • The Street Vendors (Protection of livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act : SEWA’s effort in 2004 National Policy on Street Vendors guaranteed legal status, social security and legitimate Hawking zones, further in 2012; SEWA also was called upon by the Standing Parliamentary Committee of Urban Development to make suggestions for the Central Law for the Street Vendors.
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission : SEWA’s effort in including the skilled work under NREGs has led to the formation of NRLM

SEWA under its Agriculture, Water and Forestry campaign represented and lobbied with policy makers and stakeholders at various levels i.e. local, national regional and global to voice out the issues related small and marginal farmers which includes land sale, direct marketing, inputs etc. which has worked towards getting the I-Cards, representation in various committees and policy level changes

State Level

  • Urban Informal Economy Welfare Board : Successfully lobbied and representation in Board. The board provides identity card, tool kit skill up gradation trainings and medical benefits.
  • Scheme Enacment of the Street Vendors of Ahmedabad city : SEWA filed a Public Interest Litigation for Street Vendors as a result of which the Scheme of the Street Vendors of Ahmedabad city was enacted based on the National Policy for the Street Vendors. A bio- matrix survey of vendors was carried out the vendors got the legal recognition. Also to regularize street vendors Natural Market, SEWA prepares schematic plans to and lobbies the same with AMC (Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation) .Schematic plans for two of the natural market are approved by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and are in execution stage.

In XXXX(year to be informed by Urban union) SEWA has filed Public Interest litigation for inclusion of the traditional waste pickers in the solid waste management of the city. After much lobbying AMC awarded, SEWA door to door waste collection work in 3 slums.

SEWA's Campaign

The SEWA movement is steadfastly spreading in cities and villages. Under this movement, to bring solutions to issues and challenges of workers like long-term solutions and worker friendly policies, campaigns are initiated by the members under the leadership of members themselves. These campaigns give life to the SEWA movement. Various campaigns based on locality, trade and issues cutting across a large group of members are active in SEWA currently, increasing the collective strength of members. Some of SEWA’s major campaigns of the year 2017 are:

  • Homebased workers campaign
  • treet vendors campaign
  • Construction workers campaign
  • Waste pickers campaign
  • Minimum wage campaign
  • Identity card campaign
  • Urban policies and informal workers campaign
  • Social security campaign
  • Water and natural resource conservation campaign – SEWA’s campaign of the 21st century – Women, water and work
  • Forestry campaign
  • Agriculture campaign
  • Nutrition security campaign

35% of SEWA’s membership is from the young generation. This is the 2nd and 3rd generation of our founder members that is joining SEWA. To enable this young generation to understand the struggle of the founding members, the impact of SEWA’s work on the lives of its members and the values of SEWA, and to keep SEWA relevant to its young members; with Full-employment and Self-reliance as its main objectives, SEWA initiated its “sustainability campaign” – a campaign focusing on making SEWA, as a union, self-sustaining.

As a firm step towards this, in 2015, SEWA adopted the Membership management system. This has led to complete digitization of SEWA’s membership data. As a result of this, from 2017 onwards, the time and expense incurred in renewing SEWA’s membership has decreased. Additionally, the membership data of previous year would be useful in planning and implementation of new initiatives. Thus, combining technology and thriftiness – SEWA has achieved reduction in wastage of time and money.

When the nation is talking about Digital inclusion, how does an informal women worker go digital? SEWA’s own customized membership management platform – identified as “SEWA online” by its members is an answer to this. Cadre of SEWA’s grass-root leaders and representatives purchased their own tablets and smart-phones and renewed the membership of thousands of members online – accepting membership dues online.