SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972. It is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. SEWA’s main goals are to organise women workers for full employment & self-reliance. Full employment means employment whereby workers 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. By self-reliance we mean that women should be autonomous and self-reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of their decision-making ability. Founded by Magsaysay winner Ela Bhatt, at present SEWA has a membership base of 1.2 million.
SEWA is both an organisation and a movement. The SEWA movement is enhanced by its being a sangam or 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. Through their own movement women become strong and visible and their tremendous economic and social contributions get recognized.
In response to the demand for creating sustainable livelihood strategies for the poorest of the poor women producers, The SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre (STFC) was established in May 2003 as the commercial arm of SEWA by more than 15000 women artisans in the textiles and handicrafts sector.