SEWA Bharat’s History in Bihar

Bihar registered the lowest female labour force participation rate (LFPR) at merely 4% in rural areas and 6.5% in urban areas. One of the reasons for such a low level of Female Work Participation Rate in Bihar has been the definational complexities of their work that accentuate the problem of undercounting them in the labour force.The distribution of workers by status of employment suggests that 40% of female workers in Bihar were self-employed, either as own account workers (32.3%) or as helpers in household enterprises (7.7%). The primary sector continues to provide bulk of the employment opportunities. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector absorbed 66.8% of female workers.

SEWA’s history in Bihar dates back to the early 1980s, with the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Bhagalpur. Back then, Bhagalpur was famous for its silk work and almost 70% of SEWA’s membership came from silk weavers’ families. Women were reluctant to come out of their houses. SEWA Bihar’s first challenge was to organize women and recognize their work at the household and policy level.
SEWA Bihar primarily works with home-based artisans, handloom weavers, domestic workers, farmers and agricultural producers, construction workers, vendors, and domestic workers.

Major Trade Groups

Agri & allied Workers

Home-based Workers

Construction Workers

Domestic Workers

Street Vendors

Grassroots Women Leaders
SEWA Members
Women Linked With Social Security Schemes
Women Provided With Health Referrals health linkages

Our Approach


Enabling women microentrepreneurs and women-run collective social enterprises to become resilient beyond COVID-19

Mahila Owned Viable Enterprises (MOVE)

Supporting the development of sustainable women-run collective social enterprises

Under the Peepal Tree

A Mobile Training Model where rural communities can access skill-based training in tailoring and beauty salons

Goat Resource Centre

Providing training to women goat rearers and helping them earn income through preparing and selling goat feed supplements

Zamini Adhikar Abhiyan

Increasing awareness and access to land tenure, infrastructure services and housing finance for women workers living in informal settlements

Organizing trade groups

We work towards strengthening community-level collectives to build the local voices of women through trade committees, issue-based committees and ensure their representation in government committees.

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We have strengthened the trade committees for bidi workers, papad workers and domestic workers. We are in the process of forming and strengthening trade committees for women in agriculture and street vendors. The committees hold meetings to discuss their issues and design campaigns around them. One such campaign is “My Fair Home Campaign” that is currently underway in Katihar, Munger and Patna, where the domestic workers organise under the banner to demand fair wages, safe working conditions and dignified work.

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Major Advocacy initiatives

We have been enabling inclusive civic leadership by strengthening grassroots leaders, known as Aagewans, who actively participate in building strong collectives of women workers.

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Our advocacy efforts include, making functional the construction welfare board and bidi welfare board; pushing towards formation of unorganised sector workers welfare board and registration of members in it; and formation of domestic workers welfare board. SEWA Bihar is a member of the advisory committee for the domestic workers welfare board.

At the district level, SEWA Bihar is an invitee member in the Munger Town Vending Committee, represents in the Munger Agricultural Technology Management Agency governing body and gets representation at block level Rogi Kalyan Samiti in Kharagpur block of Munger. To mark the workers’ strength, we celebrate “Shramik Mahotsav” at the district level where women workers and government officials get to participate in festivities and our members get to share their concerns.

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Addressing Community Issues

Aagewans mobilize their local communities for regular mohalla meetings where they educate the women workers on their rights, finance, health, gender-based violence, social security schemes and land rights etc.

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These members are linked to various social security schemes and entitlements through our SEWA Shakti Kendras, which are functional in each block of Munger, Bhagalpur and Katihar districts. At other places, the grassroots organizers take this task of scheme linkages upon themselves. We work closely with communities, elected representatives and government officials in Nehru Nagar and Mubarakpur in Patna, where we have been successful in mobilizing them for accessing better infrastructure, such as cleaner drains, safe drinking water, metered electricity connection, mobile toilet installation, and pucca roads etc.

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Capacity Building

SEWA Bihar started its skill development program in 2014 in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID).

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Three years later, we got the SEWA Youth Resource Centre (SYRC) in Katihar registered under the “Kushal Yuva Program”, which focussed on enhancing the employability skills of all aspirants in the age group of 15-28 years who have passed at least 10th class. Till date we have trained 519 students, 40% of whom are employed in the private sector. All the courses offered through SYRC help girls develop computer literacy, soft skills and provide them with personality development, leadership building and team work experience. “Under the Peepal Tree” training program has till date trained 638 young girls and women who are either practicing tailoring in their villages or are employed in shops and other establishments.

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