Bhatt founded SEWA with the aim of creating a trade union of women who earned a living through their own labour. Over the past three decades, it has evolved, becoming a cooperative movement that has enabled 7.94 lakh women - from rag pickers and vendors to chindi (used garment) makers - to become economically and socially self-reliant, giving them access to education, childcare, banking, insurance and, more recently, housing. Today, SEWA is a self-sufficient NGO, and an example to the world - the model has been replicated in South Africa, Yemen and Turkey. Bhatt was given the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1977.
"I have shared my life with SEWA women," she says in the foreword to We Are Poor But So Many. "I have tried to take the reader into their world - the battles they fight, and their working and living conditions, I have written about women who are unlikely to read what I have written about them."
As the guiding spirit behind SEWA and its many projects ELA RAMESH BHATT has shown that the weak and the poor can, through their collective strength, overcome numerous handicaps. Her great confidence in the ability of self-employed women is seen in the structure of SEWA; it is a grass-roots organization which genuinely utilizes the talents and knowledge of its members. One who has observed her at work has said of ELA BHATT: "She is an extraordinarily calm, strong person whose gentleness and patience with the women is certainly one of the most important reasons for the success of SEWA."
"Simple needs and approach eliminate the need to lie and the craving for more. I relish simplicity as an all-comprehensive value." - Ela Bhatt
Contact Ela Bhatt:
Self Employed Women's AssociationSEWA Reception Centre,
Opp. Victoria Garden, Bhadra,
Ahmedabad - 380 001.India.
Phone : 91-79-25506444, 25506477, 25506441
Fax : 91-79-25506446
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.