SEWA’s decades-long involvement in empowering informal women workers revealed a strong connection between their living and economic conditions. Those working informally usually occupy spaces in informal settlements – in slums, resettlement colonies and unauthorised colonies typically suffering from lack of basic infrastructure services and insecure land tenure. Insufficient infrastructure services lead not just to ill-health, but also take away time from economic activities and opportunities, as critical time is spent in coping up with inadequacies.
Insecure tenure and limited ownership rights prevent women from investing in their homes, amplify the likelihood of domestic violence, and create a perennial risk of displacement and eviction. Further, mainstream financial services are typically inaccessible in informal settlements due to the status of land tenure and property documentation, and/or lack of third-party documentation of earnings.
A key concern is the lack of awareness amongst women informal workers about their current housing and land tenure status, their rights to infrastructure and services from the government and possibility of accessing formal finance. The SEWA Bharat team, therefore, aims to economically and socially empower women by creating awareness around the above, help improve their access to infrastructure facilities and strengthen their land tenure.