SEWA has been working with women in Munger since 1983, growing to include more than 36,000 home-based workers, agricultural producers, vendors, and domestic workers.
SEWA Munger Programs
- Advocacy: Mahadalit Rights
- Livelihood promotion: agarbatti (incense) production
- Health and Social Security
- Solar Light Systems
- Last year, 61 women participated in 1,672 mohalla meetings
- A cadre of 100 aagewans support Munger
- Nearly 1,000 women linked with sustainable livelihoods in agarbatti production
- See a SEWA Success story: Rekha Devi from the agarbatti project
SEWA Munger brings Informal women workers have specific concerns to government and media attention. Through local and national level meetings, public demonstrations and campaigns, SEWA helps the Government of India understand and meet the needs of women in the informal economy. SEWA Munger works at the trade and community levels to ensure economic and social protection through public support, policy, and government action.
Mahadalits are the poorest of the suppressed Dalit-caste. SEWA Bharat has been advocating for their rights of these marginalized groups since 2011. Mahadalits have been discriminated against openly and without interference by public, private, and local institutions.
SEWA Munger has helped in highlight the conditions and discrimination Mahadalits face, specifically when a local settlement of Mahadalits were evicted from their homes. SEWA Munger mobilized communities across caste, religious, and area differences to work together in fighting for the rights of Mahadalits and led to the rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced population. Additionally SEWA connected Mahadalits to programs and schemes such as the Mahadalit Awas Bhumi Yojna.
See the July 2013 Inclusive Cities article on SEWA Munger’s Mahadalit work.
Livelihood promotion: agarbatti (incense) production
Livelihood opportunities for women in Munger are largely restrained to the domestic space due to cultural and societal barriers. Since women engage in home-based activities and farming, their earnings and contributions to the economy go unrecognized. To address these cultural barriers, SEWA Munger connected women agarbatti production. Women employed in agarbatti production receive full-time employment that does not inpede on their agriculture and home responsibilities.
SEWA Bharat in collaboration with The ITC Rural Development Trust has been implementing Mission Sunehra Kal in four blocks of Munger district in Bihar since March 2003. The major objective of the project is to promote sustainable livelihoods and income, to build economic institutions and to promote social security measures among women workers of Munger. The program is currently functioning in Munger, Bariarpur, Haveli Kharagpur and Jamalpur blocks of Munger district and reaching around 949 beneficiaries through its Income Generation.
SEWA Munger’s women members themselves own and operate two registered agarbatti production institutions. With 772 shareholders, the SEWA Udyogik Swalambhi Sahakari Samiti (2005) focuses on agarbatti production.
Set up in 2008, the SEWA Shram Sugandhit Producer Company engages women in high-value agarbatti scenting. The agarbatti-scenting cooperative has five directors in its board and 516 members hold shares in the company. This institution is comprised of 20 women workers.
The agarbatti production project is a strong example of how SEWA aims to integrate its development activities. Women gaining livelihood support through the project are also organized into SHGs to further their financial capacities. Furthermore, particular health camps are run for the agarbatti workers, so that they can live healthy, well-rounded lives.
Three years ago, a violent illness forced Rekha-devi’s husband to leave his masonry work. Strict community values did not permit Rekha-devi to look outside for work, so she began rolling agarbatti at home. This was not enough. Her family had no money to eat for days at a time.
Through mohalla meetings, SEWA Munger women leaders built up trust with the Rekha-devi’s community. Now, Rekha-devi is empowered and earns a significant, recognized, and sustainable contribution to her family’s finances. In 2013, Rekha-devi earned around Rs. 2,500 per month in SEWA Munger’s agarbatti pedal rolling center.
Health and Social Security
Poor working women’s health issues are often seriously neglected because of high costs, administrative barriers, overwhelming workloads, and cultural restrictions . SEWA’s health program includes preventative and curative care to ensure that women’s health conditions are addressed.
Jagriti (health awareness) sessions empower women with in-depth knowledge on issues such as mother and child healthcare, nutrition, and health schemes.
- In 2016, 17,712 people engaged in 723 health awareness sessions
SEWA organizes needs-based health camps with doctors and expert practitioners who bring free treatment directly into communities.
- In 2016, 11 health camps connected 895 women free pap smear tests
- 19 people suffering from tuberculosis were cured through diagnosis and treatment
SEWA health saathis directly refer women to government and private healthcare centres to reduce poor women’s expenditure, and pass on skills and experience for women to lead community members.
- In 2016, 1,395 referrals to hospitals and clinics
The Indian government has vast social protection programs, but benefits hardly reach those in need. SEWA connects people to social security by providing scheme information; help with applications, and government liaison support.
- 7,972 women and men attended informational sessions on various public welfare schemes
- In 2016, 2,984 government scheme linkages helped people access benefits including pension, caste certification, and various identity cards at 3 community centers around Munger.
Women in the informal sector lack safe, reliable, and non-exploitative sources of finance. SEWA Munger’s micro-finance program empowers women to become financially literate, have control over their money and assets, and be less vulnerable to financial risks. SEWA provides links to financial services through SHG and Thrift and Credit Cooperative Models.
SEWA SHGs consist of 10-20 women who financially support one another through monthly meetings, savings, internal loan disbursement and repayment. SHGs give women first-time access to capital, inculcate the importance of savings, and build the financial credential to be linked to mainstream banks.
- 317 SHGs with 4,461 informal women workers
- SHG savings over Rs. 2.1 crore
- In 2015, Rs. 64,41,792 worth of loans were distributed
Banks deny services to low-income and illiterate women, citing a lack of financial credibility, identification, and security. Poor informal sector women workers have used their experiences in SHGs to establish their own state-level financial institution, SEWA Bacchat Aur Sakh Swavablambi Sahkari Samiti Cooperative in 2012. This financial institution caters to the needs of women in the informal sector and helps connect them to credit, savings, and financial literacy training.
- 4,396 women have cooperative accounts
- Cumulative savings worth Rs. 13,719,643
- In 2015, 226 loans were given, amounting to over Rs. 5 crore
Last year, SEWA Bharat launched a new micro-finance training-of-trainers program, empowering 25 girls with the skills to deliver financial literacy workshops. The goal is to create a sustainable teaching-learning environment, where communities teach, learn, and collaborate together.
Sarthak: Solar Light Systems
Since 2013, SEWA has provided energy services to populations across Bihar. SEWA partners with the technology providers to engage informal sector women in energy and finance by building low cost renewable solar lights. SEWA Bharat took up the initiative of meeting the basic lighting and energy needs of people in Munger and Bhagalpur Districts of Bihar by providing solar home light systems to rural households. The solar unit’s components include a solar panel, a module, an LED light, and tabular battery.
The Solar Light Program is wholly owned and financed by the women members leading to, not only the use of relatively cheaper and environmentally friendly source of electricity, but also benefits women economically.
Under this, a number of SHGs have been formed. These SHGs take loan to get the solar lights installed in their areas which are available in affordable subsidized cost with a provision of payment in installments. SEWA Bharat provides training to members on installation and maintenance of solar lights so as to make the model sustainable.
- Due to switch to solar lights, 83,190 litres of kerosene have been saved annually by 20,000 beneficiaries. 232,600 Kgs of carbon emission has been reduced annually.
- SEWA Bharat would be establishing 3 bio-gas plants that in its full capacity can provide electricity to 300 households. The plant will be set up in Nawagadhi and Kharagpur in Munger and one in Bhagalpur
SEWA Bharat is constantly looking for new, innovative project opportunities. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to partner with us.