Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), registered as a trade union in 1972, is an organisation of poor but self-employed women workers, who earn a living through their own labour or very small businesses. Of the total female labour force in India, more than 94% are in the unorganised sector. However their work is not counted and hence remains invisible.
SEWA's main goals are to organise these women workers for full employment, whereby they obtain work security, income security, food security and social security (at least health care, child care and shelter). SEWA organises women to ensure that every family obtains full employment. It aims to make women autonomous and self-reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of their decision-making ability.
SEWA organises workers to achieve their goals of full employment and self reliance through the strategy of struggle and development. The struggle is against the many constraints and limitations imposed on them by society and the economy, while development activities strengthen women's bargaining power and offer them new alternatives. Practically, the strategy is carried out through the joint action of union and cooperatives. Gandhian thinking is the guiding force for SEWA's poor, self-employed members in organising for social change. SEWA follows the principles of satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), sarvadharma (integrating all faiths, all people) and khadi (propagation of local employment and self reliance)
SEWA is both an organisation and a movement. The SEWA movement is enhanced by its confluence of three movements : the labour movement, the cooperative movement and the women's movement. But it is also a movement of self-employed workers : their own, home-grown movement with women as the leaders.