SEWA Bharat is the all-India Federation of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). SEWA is a trade union of low-income female workers in the informal economy founded by Ela Bhatt in 1972 in Gujarat. Since then SEWA has pioneered the women’s empowerment movement in India. Based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, SEWA’s goal is to achieve full employment and self-reliance for all its members. SEWA organizes its membership base of 1.9 million women workers to achieve self-reliance.

SEWA Bharat extends support to a large number of women informal workers across India. Currently, SEWA's membership exceeds 1.4 million women workers, representing 13 states of India. Based in Delhi, SEWA Bharat directly supports member institutions and projects in 8 states of India. SEWA Bharat also connects members with SEWA institutions in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala for knowledge exchange, skill building and resource sharing.

SEWA provides a number of life-cycle programming opportunities to its members including the following:

  • Organizing and Capacity Building- Organize women to increase their bargaining power, Ensure that their voices are heard and organize training and workshops for capacity building.
  • Livelihood and Skill Development - Improved livelihood and market opportunities for women workers and skill enhancement program for adolescent girls.
  • Health- SEWA’s approach to the health system is to strengthen existing services.
  • Education- The education program of SEWA work for three categories of people to provide them supplementary education. 1) Children who are enrolled in school 2) Drop-outs and out-of-school 3) Non Formal education for women.
  • Micro-finance- Help women in their work towards Capital formation at the household levels by providing them the necessary financial tools i.e. continuous savings, credit etc.
  • Social security- Increased access of women workers to social protection entitlements, including health, insurance, child care and pensions.
  • Advocacy and Networking - Women worker’s concerns are visible, leading to increased recognition of their rights and entitlements by organizing campaigns and linking it with the medias.

Website: http://sewabharat.org/

Possible Volunteering Opportunities

See Testimonials for feedback from recent volunteers.

Supporting advocacy for domestic workers

SEWA is collaborating with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to support the rights of domestic workers, as part of a global advocacy campaign. SEWA is actively working with domestic workers in several Indian states, and is supporting them in a campaign called 'My Fair Home'. This opportunity, new for 2020, is for a summer intern to interact with domestic workers and senior leaders in SEWA to document the history of this campaign, and the associated mobilisation.

Research and Documentation

  • Data research and documentation to support program development.
  • Conduct research relating to programs/ project’s Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
  • Policy research on women’s access to social welfare schemes of central and state government, women’s labour rights, draft briefs on existing legislature that are enacted for this communities that SEWA work for.
  • Researching and developing material of the best practices related to women empowerment through skill development, livelihood generation, health, micro-finance, education and right based advocacy.
  • Documenting case studies.
  • Conduct research on key issues faced by the poor women in their communities.
  • Research on the impact of usage of technology in the lives of underprivileged women/girls and social enterprises.
  • Secondary research for resource mapping.

Programmatic and Strategic

  • Working alongside a program manager on projects to document our work, develop materials to be used with and for our members, to create awareness among members, facilitate and lead workshops or sessions with members. For instance, awareness of sexual health among youth.
  • Contribute to the strategy behind the formation or expansion of programs, developed marketing collateral and communication strategies of several programs for external use.

Preferred skills

  • Passionate about working for a social cause and contribute to the development sector.
  • Excellent Written and oral communication skills.
  • Detail oriented and creative thinking with good analytical skills.
  • Ability to work with quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Curiosity and a willingness to learn.
  • Good interpersonal skills.

Approximate cost

You should expect to spend about £1550 for eight weeks - this covers costs for food and accommodation, as well as local travel. This includes the £300 programme fee payable for Camvol support.

In addition to these local costs, volunteers will need to book return flights to India (typically about £600 if booked early), and apply for an appropriate visa, as required by the Indian High Commission (for visa charges, please check the Indian visa facilitation service website for exact fees).

Vaccination and other medical costs have NOT been included in estimated costs, and applicants should take this into account while planning their budgets. If you intend to travel for recreation and tourism, these costs will be additional, so please budget accordingly.

Financial support for summer charitable work and volunteering is available via Colleges and from the University. If selected, the Camvol Director can advise about funding opportunities.