Publications and Reports





Anusuya captures in Hindi, anecdotes, opinions, and stories of struggles, resilience and achievements of SEWA women across 10 states. This edition of Anusuya covers SEWA communities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Women of different trades in the informal sector face health, economic, and social consequences due to the pandemic’s effects on India’s economy, health systems, and infrastructure.

Aug 2020
 July 2020

September 1, 2020   September 16, 2020





Solar and renewable energy


In 2018, DFID India conceptualized an initiative to improve the participation of women in the solar sector workforce. They designed a project with SEWA Bharat and other partners to skill unemployed youth(a majority being women) in NP Kunta, Anantapur district, one of the backward regions in Andhra Pradesh.

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Anusuya – June 2020 (Hindi)

Anusuya June 2020


The June 2020 edition of Anusuya covers SEWA communities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Women in the informal sector face health, economic, and social consequences due to the pandemic’s effects on India’s economy, health systems, and infrastructure.

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Employment Opportunities for Women in India’s Growing Financial Sector

India’s financial services sector has been among the fastest growing sectors in the economy, a trend that is likely to persist given the diverse opportunities that continue to emerge as the sector expands. There clearly exists potential employment for first-generation educated women from the informal sector who aspire to be gainfully employed in financial services. However, women’s share in employment  in Scheduled Commercial Banks remains at a dismal 22 percent and 12 percent in microfinance institutions. This paper aims to identify the opportunities available for women in India’s financial sector, and the obstacles they face in accessing them, both from the demand and supply side. The study has been undertaken by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA_, which has, for years been working to improve women’s access to financial services in India, particularly for women who work in the informal sector and are in need of finance. It draws on multiple, small area studies that SEWA has conducted in different parts of India on barriers women face to accessing funds, as well as qualitative interviews commissioned as part of the World Bank’s Skill India Mission Operation (SIMO). Finally, the paper presents recommendations aimed at improving occupational choices and
employment for women in financial services in India.

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Piloting Basic Income: A Legacy Study 

micro-financeIn 2012-13, an unconditional and universal basic income was tested in a pilot study carried out  in a tribal village in Madhya Pradesh.  The pilot covered 127 households consisting of 756 individuals, and was evaluated through comparison with another tribal village with very similar socio-economic characteristics, containing 97 households and 608 individuals. In one tribal village, Ghodakhurd, for a period of 12 months, Rs.300 was paid to each adult and  half of that amount to children. In the control tribal village, i.e., Bhilami, none was paid any basic income. The complex outcomes of the pilot were evaluated by a set of  three comprehensive surveys, complemented by detailed ‘case studies’. These showed that the basic income induced a series of changes that added up to being transformational. In brief, the basic income had a strong positive welfare impact, in terms of living conditions, nutrition, health and schooling, and a strong economic impact, in terms of increased earned incomes, more work and productive labour and more assets. It also had both an equity impact as well as an emancipatory impact, in terms of reducing debt, increasing savings, enabling more people to respond to financial crises, and gaining the ability to make decisions for themselves.

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 Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India by Sarath Davala, Renana Jhabvala, Soumya Kapoor Mehta and Guy Standing



The book draws on two pilot schemes conducted in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, in which thousands of men, women and children were provided with an unconditional monthly cash payment. The book draws on a series of evaluation surveys conducted over the course of 18 months in which the main pilot was in operation, supplemented with detailed case studies of individuals and families.

It looks at the impact on health and nutrition, on schooling, on economic activity, on women’s agency and on the welfare of those with disabilities.

Above all, the book considers whether or not a basic income could be transformative, in not only improving individual and family welfare but in promoting economic growth and development, as well as having an emancipatory effect for people long mired in conditions of poverty and economic insecurity.

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 A Little More, How Much It Is..Piloting Basic Income Transfers in Madhya Pradesh, India

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 7.55.37 PMThe Madhya Pradesh Unconditional Cash Transfers Project (MPUCT) is an innovative pilot testing the potential that such transfers hold for addressing vulnerabilities faced by low income Indians. It is the first time that unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) have been subject to such a detailed assessment in India. The results of the pilot should assist those trying to reach a balanced judgment on whether or not UCTs can be incorporated into Indian social protection and economic policy.

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An Experimental Pilot Cash Transfer Study in Delhi

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To allow the choices and voices of poor households to be heard in the debate on cash transfers, SEWA conducted a small pilot study with the support of Government of Delhi and UNDP.The essential design was to allow some households in the sample the choice of equivalent cash transfer into a bank account in place of rations. These households then could not draw rations during the period of the pilot. Those receiving the cash transfer and those who continued in the current system were then interviewed and surveyed so their consumption patterns, and their views on cash transfers and rations, could be compiled and analysed. A number of lessons were learnt from our pilot study, and these inform our assessment of cash transfers.

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Accelerating Women’s Economic Empowerment in India Event Report

WEEIndiaIn 2016, the United Nations’ General Secretary set up a High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (UNHLP), with the objective of making action-oriented recommendations on how to improve economic outcomes for women, promoting women’s leadership in driving economic growth, and galvanizing political will power. In order to adapt the insights from the panel to the Indian context, SEWA Bharat and the International Innovation Corps at the University of Chicago jointly hosted a roundtable discussion in April 2018, to consider emerging findings and deliberate on the questions that follow. The discussion brought together civil society, philanthropists, researchers, and international organizations, to discuss key questions pertinent to women’s economic empowerment. Insights and questions that emerged from the discussion are highlighted in this event report and video.

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This monograph is based on the findings of the Gujarat Social Income and Insecurity Survey (GSIS) conducted in 2007-08 amongst a sample of 1,407 respondents in Ahmedabad city and Surendrangar district. The GSIS explored the components of social income – an expanded definition of income, in which a person’s socio-economic security is the composite of several sources of income and support that includes private investments, employer benefits, community transfers and state benefits. Since twenty percent of the households sampled was SEWA members, the GSIS also gave SEWA the opportunity to measure the impact of our efforts, to determine how joining SEWA makes a difference.

The survey revealed a picture of life for workers in Gujarat, best characterized as insecure, except for the minority in salaried employment. Average incomes of workers have remained low at Rs. 127 per day, with women earning only 40 percent of that earned by men. We found that nearly two out of every five people were not able to procure enough food for their household. Infrastructure is certainly improving in Gujarat, although housing and sanitation amongst the poor remains a serious gap. In this environment, it is not surprising that crisis is ubiquitous: almost 80% of households faced a financial shock in the past year. In crisis, workers primarily depend on the community, with little support from employers or private investments for casual or non-salaried workers. Entitlements from the State, despite a wide array of schemes, remain ‘clogged’ in bureaucratic distribution channels.

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Advancing Cooperation among Women Workers in the Informal Economy: The SEWA Way

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 2.02.00 PMThis report aims to provide an understanding of the challenges and opportunities for cooperatives and other SSE units in empowering women workers in the informal economy, with a specific focus on SEWA’s experience. It is based on individual interviews and focus group discussions with select cooperative leaders and members and also uses select studies presenting the forty-year experience of SEWA with cooperatives.

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On Sale: The Invisible Costs Behind the Price Tag

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The global garment supply chain is a worldwide production line of informal workers across many industries. To produce a single t-shirt, men, women, and children provide labor in farms, villages, and cities across the world. “On Sale” is an in-depth look into the global supply chain and the social and economic effects it has on the workers, environment, and consumers. This resource also provides a look at what SEWA is doing and how you can take steps in creating more transparent and sustainable production across the world.

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Energy Access and Women’s Livelihoods

Energy Livelihoods TitleWhile the level of poverty plays a key role in determining the access to energy sources, usage of a particular kind of energy source can perpetuate poverty. According to the International Energy Association, over 400 million people in India (36% of the total population) live without reliable electricity While several studies have delved into impact of energy access on quality of life of women, very few have looked into productive use of energy in women’s lives, particularly into how it impacted their livelihood. The ‘Energy Access and Women’s livelihoods’ study was planned to explore the matter in greater detail. The goal of the study is to promote the inclusion of women in the energy access supply chain by adoption of a gender-centric approach, and to strengthen inclusion of gender in energy plans, programs and policies at the local, regional and national level.

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Clean City, Decent Work: An Inclusive and Innovative Solution for Managing Waste

Waste management is a critical issue in India especially in rapidly expanding towns and cities where existing infrastructure and systems for dealing with waste are non-existent or inadequate. Faced with rapid population growth, poor governance, a lack of public awareness and limited funds, cities are struggling to find a way to responsibly manage ever increasing amounts of waste.

This report is intended for policy makers and practitioners involved in waste management and urban governance. It aims to document the challenges in Katihar district of Bihar, provide an overview of the SEWA model that has been developed in response to these problems, to outline the strategies and process deployed and to give an honest account of the challenges faced. It ends with an overview of future plans and with wider policy recommendations for waste management solutions.

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Deepening Financial Inclusion – Evidence from Two States – A SEWA-UNDP Initiative

SEWA conducted this study that largely covers the current status of financial literacy and financial inclusion in two states namely, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The study was focused on three aspects of financial inclusion that could lead to financial deepening viz. existing structures and level of financial literacy bringing out the need and necessity for it; existing level of financial or banking inclusion including usage of banking and other regulated products at an optimal cost and; use and understanding of different financial products profile including SCRIPT (Savings, Credit, Remittances, Insurance, Pensions and Transfers).

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Shram Jeevani: Women in the Informal Economy in Bihar

In an effort to make the hard working informal women labor in Bihar visible as workers, as enterprises and as contributors to the state and the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), SEWA Bharat in association with Government of Bihar conducted a study across the state.

The report was a cumulative approach to understand and recommend a decentralized approach to uplift and recognize the contribution and issues of women in informal labor.

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The Challenges of Maintaining Hygiene in Rural Bihar

Given widespread insecurities in water, latrine, and bathroom access a study was conducted to understand how these insecurities effect personal hygiene practices of poor women and girls in rural areas of Bihar. The study was carried out in 3 rural districts of Bihar (Bhagalpur, Munger, Katihar) to understand women’s daily and menstrual hygiene practices. 100 women and girls were surveyed and 6 focus group discussions (FGD) conducted. It focuses on hygiene practices of women not simply in their roles as mothers and caretakers of the sick and elderly but as individuals whose personal health, safety and dignity are also deeply impacted by WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) insecurities.

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Annual Report

SEWA Bharat Annual Report 2015-2016