Urban Ecology: The politics of Resources by Renana Jhabvala Self Employed Women’s Association
SEWA: History • The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a trade union of women workers in India’s unorganized or informal sector. Founded by Ela Bhatt in 1972, • Over 1.2million members in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, and Uttarakhand.
SEWA Members Members are women in informal economy: -- Street vendors, such as vegetable vendors -- Homebased workers, such as garment stitchers, leather workers --Women selling their labour and services, such as agricultural labourers, child care providers -- Small producers, such as small farmers, milk producers
SEWA’s Two Main Objectives • To organise women workers to achieve fullemployment, i.e. work security, income security, food security and social security • To make women individually and collectively self-reliant, economically independent and capable of making their own decisions
SEWA in Urban Areas • Gujarat- Ahmedabad, Baroda, Gandhi Nagar……. • Madhya Pradesh- Indore, Bhopal, Ujjain….. • Delhi- West, North, North East Delhi • Bihar- Katihar, Bhagalpur, Munger, Patna • Rajasthan- Jaipur, Bikaner • Uttarakhand- Dehradun, Almora • Kerala- Trivandrum • Uttar Pradesh- Lucknow • West Bengal-
Trades/ Work/ type of SEWA members (Urban Employment)
Home-based workers- Embroidery Workers, Agarbatti roller, Bidi roller etc
Work and Public spacesexample of street vendors • About 2% of the urban population are street vendors. Yes, cities do not plan spaces for them • Result– they are always illegal and beaten and fines and have to undertake their livelihood “illegally” • Solution: Implement the National Policy for street vendors– from removal to regulation .
Work and access to public waste • The poorest of the poor are rag pickers living off public waste. They performing an important “green” function of recycling. • Solid Waste Management policies and tenders, remove their livelihood. Stop recycling • Solution: Include them and recycling in SWM by appropriate policies (tenders)
My Home – My workplace • For about 30% of poor households their home is also their work place. • Poor house quality lowers productivity • Zoning results in unemployment Towards Solution– recognize the home as a workplace and • Zoning should be mixed use esp. for homebased workers • House improvement through infrastructure and loans must be considered productive • Electricity essential for productivity and should be priced right.
Inclusion in Urban Infrastructure • Provision of urban infrastructure is tied to the tenure status of the land on which people live • Leads to open defecation, drinking polluted water, illnesses and tensions in communities. Towards Solution– make provision of drinking water and toilet the right of every urban resident. Delink provision of basic services from the status of the land.
Habitat • Lack of tenure and uncertainty of life, in spite of making payments for their houses. • Inability to invest due to lack of tenure Towards Solutions • In situ up gradation, through granting shelter rights • Spaces planned in cities for low income habitats • Housing finance for the poor
Urban Governance- Bringing in the voice of the poor • Urban Local Body structures do not reach down into communities/ So no forums for “Voice” of the poor • Only people with money and power get heard and so lop-sided investments and policies Towards Solution, to create forums for Voice eg: • Ward committees for street vending • CBOs which will function as RWAs for the poor
Thank you Subyben( mother) Reena Gangoben (grand mother) Old cloth vendor SEWA worker Street vendor