Social Security & Health2022-04-11T11:00:59+00:00

Need for Social Security and Health

Despite comprising much of India’s workforce and contributing substantially to India’s GDP, informal workers are routinely undervalued and exploited. Within this socially and economically disadvantaged group, women face a double disadvantage due to cultural, educational, uniquely gendered, social barriers.

Welfare schemes, social security and health programs are intended to support and protect families who are unable to meet basic material and financial standards. However, due to systemic issues, such as illiteracy, unawareness, immobility, corruption, and cost, many of these services do not reach their intended recipients. SEWA Bharat ensures that social security and health services are delivered equally and fairly to women in the informal sector. It does so by relying on information dissemination, awareness generation, and service delivery mechanisms.

Women linked with social security entitlements & schemes
Health referrals and linkages
Community members reached via awareness programs

SEWA Shakti Kendras: Empowering women from the ground up

SEWA Shakti Kendras (SSKs) are a unique resource to marginalized communities in need. Deeply embedded in and trusted by communities, SSKs are accessible and experienced in fostering access to schemes and official documents, and in interacting productively and usefully with community members. All SSK staff are community members themselves and their primary activities include:

  • educating local women about health, personal finance, and their rights and entitlements as Indian citizens;
  • providing legal counseling and awareness sessions;
  • assisting them in obtaining ID and address proofs, birth and death certificates, and other official documents; and
  • connecting them to health services and government schemes, as well as to SEWA’s financial institutions and labor union.

Through SSKs we have understood that :

  • Local leaders can drive efforts to establish scheme/program linkages and follow up on delivery.
  • The ability to navigate a landscape of schemes and programs cannot result in lasting impact unless complemented by opportunities for real access to those schemes and programs.

By establishing a strong sense of trust with the communities they serve, over the years SSKs have been able to gain access to and support the most vulnerable members of Indian society. For instance, 63% of SSK beneficiaries are labor migrants, 56% of beneficiaries are home-based workers, and 56% of SSK beneficiaries have not been educated beyond the fifth grade or are entirely illiterate.

Linkages to Government Programs

To help poor women overcome informational, geographical, and educational barriers that prevent them from accessing government benefits, SSKs inform women about the benefits for which they are eligible, assist them in filling out government forms and help them follow their applications through public systems.

Health Services

SSKs are active in promoting community health through regular health camps and health information sessions. SSK staff gives presentations and lead group discussions about nutrition, STDs, menstrual health, heatstroke, and other health topics. They provide basic checkups, and refer more serious cases to hospitals. They also inform women about healthcare subsidies, public health systems, and other health-related government programs.

Legal Services

SSKs hold regular legal awareness and legal counseling sessions, to help community members access legal aid when needed and to increase communities’ general awareness of their rights and entitlements as Indian citizens.

Community organizing

SSKs also function as centers for SEWA’s work with local women leaders, or aagewans, to organize regular community meetings. These meetings strengthen community solidarity, build collective bargaining power, provide women with a forum to identify and discuss challenges that they face at either a personal or community level, and take collective action.


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