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Ela Bhatt
Born on 7 September 1933 (age 78) Ahmedabad, INDIA OCCUPATION Lawyer FATHER-Sumantrai Bhatt MOTHER-Vanalila Vyas


Ela Ramesh Bhatt (born 7 September 1933) is the founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association of India (SEWA).[1] A lawyer by training, Bhatt a respected leader of the international labour, cooperative, women, and micro-finance movements who has won several national and international awards .Ela Bhatt was born in Ahmedabad in India. Her childhood was spent in the city of Surat. Her father, Sumantrai Bhatt, had a successful law practice. Her mother, Vanalila Vyas, was active in the women's movement. Bhatt attended the Sarvajanik Girls High School in Surat from 1940 to 1948. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the M.T.B. College in Surat in 1952. Following graduation Ela entered the Sir L. A. Shah Law College in Ahmedabad. In 1954 she received her degree in law and a Gold Medal for her work on Hindu Law. She then taught English for a short time at SNDT Women's University, better known as SNDT, in Mumbai. But in 1955 she joined the legal department of the Textile Labour Association (TLA) in Ahmedabad.

Ela Bhatt current lives in Ahmedabad, Gujarat with her family.

Tla and sewa

In 1956, Ela Bhatt married Ramesh Bhatt (now deceased). After working for sometime with the Gujarat government, Ela was asked by the TLA to head its women's wing in 1968. In this connection she went to Israel where she studied at the Afro-Asian Institute of Labour and Cooperatives in Tel Aviv for three months, receiving the International Diploma of Labor and Cooperatives in 1971. She was very much influenced by the fact that thousands of female textile workers worked elsewhere to supplement the family income, but there were state laws protecting only those who were solely industrial workers and not these self-employed women. So with the cooperation of Arvind Buch, the then president of TLA, Ela Bhatt undertook to organize these self-employed women into

a union under the auspices of the Women's Wing of the TLA. Then in 1972 the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) was established with Buch as president and she herself as the general-secretary.

2006:year of Growth And Achievement

There was great jubilation at SEWAs annual general meeting held between 10th and 12th January in Ahmedabad when it was announced that SEWAs national membership has now grown to 9,65 000. There was a growth of membership in Gujarat, in spite of the continuing repression from the State Government. Large increases in membership came from Madhya Pradesh, while the States of Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh also showed considerable growth.

Many achievements were reported during the meeting: SEWA's victory in legal battle for vegetable vendors in High Court of Gujarat and legal space for over 10,000 vendors in Indore, getting identity cards for paper picker women, continuing popularity for SEWA insurance, the launching of a new pension schemes by SEWA Bank, continuing success of the Sajeevika programme and several national and international awards given to SEWA and its founder Elaben

The Founder of SEWA Madhya Pradesh Smt. Manorama Joshi was honoured with a special life-time achievement

award. She was a housewife when she started SEWA taking inspiration from Elaben 22 years ago. She first organized bidi workers and then went to the forests of Madhya Pradesh to organize the forest produce collectors. She has shown immense courage in facing employers, contractors and even dacoits while fighting for the rights of SEWA members. She welded the large membership of SEWA into one family regardless of caste and religious differences and has won the hearts of all, even her opponents with her own large heartedness.

The 1100 trade council elected leaders of SEWA spent one day discussing the future of SEWA given the huge challenges from the rapid takeover of the economy by large companies and a hostility of Government to organizations of the poor. There was a great deal of discussion on retail trade in which major companies like Reliance and Subhiksha are planning a network of supermarkets in cities, and contract farming in the rural areas. This poses a challenge to the street vendors on the one hand and the co-operatives of farmers on the other. The Street vendors said that they could compete with these supermarkets, but by denying them space to sell, the Government was denying them a level playing-field for competition. On the other hand the farmers groups of SEWA members, which have been formed to ensure a fair price for their produce, may be destroyed by the collection centers that are being planned by the big companies.

The strength of SEWA in dealing with challenges has always been its values. Historian Achyut Yagnik who was the guest speaker at the meeting, said that SEWAs values of integration and unity of all religions and castes, and its value of keeping the poor at the centre has been its main strength. He said that when the history of Gujarat is written SEWA will be one of the milestones. Elaben called upon SEWA to grow big enough to remain stable in the changing global scenario, keeping their collective strength and values and harmonious relations with each other intact. Addressing SEWA leaders representing its huge membership from all over the country in a brainstorming session, Ela Bhatt said the SEWA women have to identify their real strength which comes from their values and harmonious relationship with each other


She was one of the founders of Women's World Banking in 1979 with Esther Ocloo and Michaela Walsh, and served as its chair from 1980 to 1998. She currently serves as the Chair

of the SEWA Cooperative Bank, of HomeNet, of the International Alliance of Street Vendors, and of WIEGO She is also a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. She was granted an honorary Doctorate degree in Humane Letters by Harvard University in June 2001. Ela Bhatt was also awarded the civilian honour of Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1985, and the Padma Bhushan in 1986. She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1977 and the Right Livelihood Award in 1984. She has been chosen for the Niwano Peace Prize for 2010 for her contribution to the uplift of poor women in India. On November 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honoured Bhatt with the Global Fairness Initiative Award for helping move more than a million poor women in India to a position of dignity and independence. Ela Bhatt will be honoured with the prestigious Radcliffe Medal on May 27, 2011 on radcliffe day for her efforts in helping uplift women that has had a significant impact on society. Social activist Ela Bhatt was on Nov 19 ,2011 selected for the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development 2011 for her lifetime achievements in empowering women through grassroots entrepreneurship.



Submitted to:

Submitted by:
1. CHANDA KUMARI -110770 2. ANUSHKA-110555 3. NISHTHA SAINI-11O839 4. KANIKA-11O867 5. SONIA GHOSH-110459


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