Over 90% of workers and producers in India are in the informal economy with no regular salaried employment, no protection from hazardous working conditions, no social security or social safety nets, and are particularly vulnerable to external fluctuations within the economy and the state.
The informal economy is not a separate part of the economy but is closely tied with the formal economy, both for the supply of labour as well as for goods and services. As a result, informal workers are connected to both local and global economies. Women in the informal economy face even more risk than men due to lower wages, more strenuous work, and familial and societal responsibilities.
Founded by Elaben Bhatt in Gujarat in 1972, today nearly 2 million self-employed women across multiple industries have coalesced to form the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) which works to dismantle the economic and societal barriers that have placed women on the periphery of society. By coming together, they have transformed not only their own lives but the lives of millions more by inducing policy changes, not only at the grassroots but also at State and National levels.