Journey in self-reliance

From The Hindu:

Poor WE ARE POOR BUT SO MANY — The Story of Self-Employed Women in India: Ela R. Bhatt; Oxford University Press: This is a poignant but a powerful first-person account of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Ela R. Bhatt or Elabehn, as she is popularly addressed, the founder of SEWA, traces the trajectory of the growth of the organisation since its inception in April 1972. SEWA’s engagement is with the poorest of the poor. This, in turn, means that it is dealing with women who necessarily are engaged in multiple types of work since income from any one type of work is usually not enough to make ends meet; it also means that their work hours are not defined.

“When someone asks me what the most difficult part of SEWA’s journey has been, I can answer without hesitation: removing conceptual blocks…Definitions are part of the battle. The Registrar of Trade Unions would not consider us `workers’; hence we could not register as a `trade union’. The hard working chindi workers, embroiderers, cart pullers, rag pickers, midwives, and forest-produce gatherers can contribute to the nation’s gross domestic product, but heaven forbid that they be acknowledged as workers! Without an employer you cannot be classified as a worker, and since you are not a worker, you cannot form a trade union. Our struggle to be recognized as a national trade union continues.”

More here.

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