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.

Currently SEWA Bharat operates from 10 states of India with regional offices at Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal covering over 1.9 million women and girls members.

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

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.
  • Further research on ‘Special Task Force Report’. Link- http://sewabharat.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Shram-Jeevani_The-Report.pdf

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 £1250 for eight weeks - this covers costs for food and accommodation, as well as local travel. There are no programme fees payable to Camvol.

In addition to these local costs, volunteers will need to book return flights to India (typically about £550 if booked early), and apply for an entry 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 is available, including Camvol-CMEDT Commonwealth Travelling Scholarships; support from Colleges; and from the University. If selected, the Camvol Director can advise about funding opportunities.