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Mirai Chatterjee

Mirai Chatterjee had a BA (Hons) in History and Science from Harvard University and a Master's in Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. She was with the Self-Employed Women's Association between 1984-96, was coordinator for a Health Team from 1996-99 and hase served as General-Secretary since 1999. She is a trustee of the Mahila SEWA Trust, Friends of Women's World Banking and a Member of the Board of the Public Health Foundation of India. Mirai is the recipient of many awards, including scholarships.

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Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA)
Hybrid Social Enterprise
Gender Parity; Entrepreneurship
Areas of Impact
South Asia, India

Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA)

SEWA provides comprehensive support to poor, self-employed women. Its efforts over four decades to increase the bargaining power, economic opportunities, health security, legal representation and organizational abilities of Indian women have brought dramatic improvements to thousands and influenced similar initiatives around the globe.

Based in the Indian state of Gujarat, SEWA’s 1.3 million members include 700,000 women within the state, representing +100 informal trades, and an additional 600,000 members in 8 other states. It is the largest women’s union in India, offering its members an array of financial, health, childcare, insurance, legal, vocational and education services. Its members have created 103 cooperatives, over 3,000 producers groups, forged market links and enhanced bargaining positions.

These successful efforts increased members' employment income by 600% from 1994 to 1998. SEWA Bank, with 400,000 savers, has issued loans to thousands of members. To provide for members' healthcare, it helped start a health cooperative and developed an insurance programme that provides coverage for hospitalization, accidents and loss of life. A SEWA-affiliated team of 500 midwives and health workers serves the healthcare needs of 300,000 individuals, and the insurance programme has developed into the VimoSEWA cooperative, India’s first such national-level organization.

SEWA also uses video, telephone, computer and satellite communications to provide information technology to the working class. To address legal issues such as housing, wage disputes and other exploitative issues, it offers its members legal aid services. Currently, SEWA leaders dedicate their time to influence national and international policies that offer support to informal and self-employed workers globally.