SEWA Bharat’s History in Uttarakhand

SEWA started working in Uttarakhand in 2007 in partnership with the State Government to conduct financial literacy program in Kumaon and Garhwal region. This program was later formalized in 2012 in association with State Bank of India as a social enterprise of Business Correspondent for Financial Services to the poor and unbanked areas known as Sarthak SEWA Pvt Ltd. Sarthak reaches around 15,000 people in 5 districts of Uttarakhand and has a network of 132 Customer Service Points (CSPs).

Uttarakhand is mainly an agrarian state where the agricultural produce from women’s hard work was being bought by middlemen at alarmingly low rates. A group of grassroots women leaders was introduced to the concept of a cooperative, its functioning, and its benefits during an exposure visit to SEWA Gujarat. These women then decided to form a cooperative, recognize themselves as farmers, and remove middlemen to ensure fair pricing. More women started coming together and the membership gradually kept increasing annually.
SEWA Ekta Swayatt Sahkarita, a district-level women’s cooperative, was registered in 2013 to collectivize women farmers and enhance their income by supporting their organic produce with value addition through processing and packaging for market access. It was started with a group of 80 women that has now expanded to 750 women shareholders over a period of 7 years.

When climate change and wildlife encroachment in Uttarakhand made farming an unstable source of income, innovation became the need of the hour. SEWA Atithi, a grassroots women-run enterprise in the hospitality sector, was formed in 2019 with a mission to help women diversify their income by promoting community-based tourism. Through SEWA Atithi, the women farmers of Almora and Rudraprayag began opening their homes to responsible tourists who wanted to experience the rich local culture and heritage, along with the breathtaking beauty of Uttarakhand.

Major Trade Groups

Agricultural Workers

Home-based workers

Domestic Workers

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

Our Approach


Adolescent girls from rural communities are supported to engage with local social issues and learn employable skills


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

SEWA Sarvekshan

Upgrading the skill set of women in the informal sector in grassroots data collection

Digital Library

A hub for reading and engaging in youth empowerment-related activities

Organizing trade groups

More than 80 percent of the women members are involved in agriculture. Due to climate change, the ecology of Uttarakhand is changing and resulting in erratic rainfalls, more wildfires, drying up of natural sources of water.

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This has led to human-wildlife conflict as the latter from the jungles is now moving to human settlements and destroying crops that involve the manual labor of the women. SEWA is working with women to run a signature campaign to raise this issue with the State Chief Minister, along with helping women explore other livelihood opportunities. In the Dehradun district, SEWA has been organizing domestic workers to press for ratification of Convention 189 by GOI that would entitle them to rights and benefits provided to other workers. SEWA has also been working on honing the existing skills of women workers, finding marketing platforms for Home-based workers, ensuring fair wages, a safe and healthy working environment.

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Major Advocacy initiatives

Several families in Lakhibagh, who are mainly domestic workers, did not have access to pucca toilets in their houses since there was no sewage line.

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It was one of the longest battles that was fought as no department would take responsibility for the issue. It was even more difficult as the residents did not have permanent proof of residence although they had been living there for a very long time. After running from pillar to post for around 3-4 years, in November 2021, the government gave a nod to laying down sewage lines so that the residents can have toilets built in their area. In the Ukhimath block of Rudraprayag district, around 91 houses were washed off in a flash flood in 2020. SEWA repeatedly wrote to the District Magistrate and after a struggle of about one and a half years, the government took the decision in 2021 of allocating land and finances for the rehabilitation of the affected households.

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Addressing Community Issues

As an organization for informal women workers, our interventions revolve around advocating for the rights and entitlements associated with the trades while working on the development issues of the community simultaneously.

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In rural areas of Uttarakhand, basic infrastructure still remains a challenge as the majority of roads to remote villages are not motorable and there are no street lights. Many families are living in broken, dilapidated houses and are not even categorized as Below Poverty Line. There is no awareness of social schemes and many women still do not have their basic IDs. SEWA ensures that these issues are escalated to the right level and resolved. There is a special focus on Digital and Financial literacy, linking women to various social security schemes, health schemes, and our community leaders, also known as agewans, ensure that these initiatives reach the grassroots women.

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Capacity Building

SEWA works with youth girls and women on increasing their employability, building an entrepreneurial mindset, and being able to access a better market. Under the Navniti program, young girls are trained in computer skills, personality development, and getting involved in social issues within their communities.

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So far, 70 adolescent girls have been trained in the Kakrighat area of Almora. SEWA in Dehradun has a strong relationship with institutions such as Udyog Nideshaalaya, Jan Shikshan Sansthan and organizes several sessions on knitting, making soft toys, Macrame, jute products. In Mussoorie, training was done in the past on Hospitality and Retail Management with around 100 youth. SEWA has also started training on developing Grassroot researchers in rural areas, making people from the community in charge of data collection and analysis. The women running homestays under SEWA Atithi are constantly trained on how to hone their hosting skills and manage finances for homestays.

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