Self Employed Women’s Association’s response to crisis

Linked with our presentation of Reema Nanavaty – India.

Linked also with our presentation of Ela Bhatt – India.
From Journal of Human Development, Vol. 4, No. 2, July 2003 – Working Women And Security:

By TONY VAUX and FRANCIE LUND – Tony Vaux, a consultant specialising in conflict analysis, previously worked with OXFAM for three decades, and Francie Lund is an Associate Professor at the School of Development Studies, University of Natal.

Abstract India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is an organization of women who work informally. Between 1989 and 2001, the areas in which they live and work were affected by cyclones, drought, and earthquake. This paper traces SEWA’s response to these crises. It consistently focuses on the importance of income in sustaining livelihoods in the face of crisis. It tries to turn crisis to opportunity, often working in partnership with, and always trying to influence, government; it extends its policy influence by participating in key government commissions and committees. SEWA has developed a battery of institutions (such as the insurance scheme) aimed at reducing risk and increasing security. We suggest that SEWA’s members — who are poor working women — have developed a more appropriate response to disasters than have governments and aid agencies. In the search for human security, international agencies should pay greater attention to addressing the long-term vulnerability of poorer people. Greater attention should in general be given to the way that ‘manmade’ economic policies and programmes can increase the risks that poor people face. (Read the rest of this long 24 page pdf-text on this page of wiego.org).

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