SEWA is one of India’s largest and oldest national trade unions of informal workers with over 1.8 million active members across 18 states.


SEWA Cooperative Federation’s history can be traced back to the struggle for workers’ rights led by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Since its inception in the 1970s, the SEWA trade union has worked actively to promote the rights of women working in the informal sector. Today, SEWA is one of India’s largest and oldest national trade unions of informal workers with over 1.8 million active members across 18 states.

Alongside workers’ rights, SEWA identified the need for sustainable livelihood for informal women workers. The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Cooperative Federation has been working with and for women workers of the informal economy since 1992. The Federation is committed to women’s economic empowerment and self-reliance through collective enterprises that are owned, managed and run by women. Our role is to provide a stable support system to women’s enterprises, nationally and internationally, enabling sustainability both financially and in terms of decision making.

Photo of a gathering of people at a celebration, with an older woman clasping her hands in thanks.

Ela Bhatt, founder of SEWA, celebrates with other SEWA women at the foundation’s 30th anniversary celebration.

The Federation supports over 100 women-owned and women-led cooperatives across 6 sectors – Agriculture, Dairy, Artisans, Services, Savings & Credit, and Labour, with the view of achieving full employment and self-reliance for informal women workers. The Federation provides support services that enable these cooperatives and other collective businesses of informal women workers to become viable, to innovate, and to scale.

Women workers from SEWA's dairy farmers coop.

Women workers from SEWA’s dairy farmers coop.

Our services

With the help of a panel of experts and experienced professionals, the SEWA Federation provides specialised services to women’s collective enterprises across sectors, to enable them to become sustainable businesses. These services include:

  • Human Resources and Administration
  • Capacity Building
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Communications
  • Research

Our Impact

  • Linked 300,000 women with work and income security
  • 110 women’s collective enterprises incubated, promoted and supported
  • 4000 + grassroots leaders creating change at the community level
  • Reaching 1,700,000 individuals in 2021-2022
A woman working behind a counter sits in front of a computer as another woman, standing in front of the counter, hands her a slip of paper. Various pharmacy items can be seen in a cabinet.

A SEWA health coop worker provides services to the community.

Learn more about SEWA


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