The Self-Employed Women's Association of India

Full Employment and Self-Reliance

SEWA members Ten Questions
Keeping the two goals of full employment and self-reliance in mind, the ten questions were developed as a yard-stick or tool for evaluating SEWA's work and general direction.

The following are the ten questions of SEWA

  1. Have our members obtained more employment from our efforts?
  2. Has their income increased?
  3. Have they obtained food and nutrition?
  4. Have their health been safeguarded?
  5. Have they obtained child-care?
  6. Have they obtained shelter?
  7. Have their asets increased? (like their own savings, land, house, workspace, tools of work, licenses, identity cards, cattle and share in co-operatives and all in their own name.)
  8. Have the workers organisation been strengthened?
  9. Has workers leadership increased?
  10. Have they become self-reliant both collectively and individually?

Questions 1 to 7 are linked to the goal of employment while 8 to 10 are those concerned with SEWA's goal of self-reliance. However, each of these are inter-connected to each other. SEWA members' "ten questions" have clarified the path that is to be followed and have successfully linked SEWA's various activities to its two main goals-full employment and self-reliance for all self-employed women workers.

SEWA's two concrete goals are full employment and self-reliance for all its members. Economists and planners talk of full employment at the macro-level. However, for SEWA, it means that every single family obtains full employment. For SEWA, full employment means such employment whereby workers are assured of income security, food security and social security (health care, child care and shelter). In addition, by their goals of self-reliance, they mean that women should be autonomous and self-reliant indibidually and collectively, both economicallly and in terms of their dicision-making ability.

While it is important for an organisation to present its report of activities, it is also necessary for it to continuously monitor and evaluate its direction, in light of its goal. Who will guide SEWA as to whether it is on the right track? In a membership-based organisation, it is clear that the members themselves must guide and monitor the direction of the organisation. After long and in-depth discussion and debate, SEWA members have developed their own yard-stick for monitoring and evaluating the direction of SEWA . This yard-stick essentially consist of ten simple questions. Each organiser in SEWA should pose these questions to herself and also to the organisation itself. During the year, internal monitoring and self evaluation was that members and organizers were indeed moving in the same direction, with an awareness of SEWA's goal.

In membership based organisation, the member's priorities necessarily shape the priorities of the organisation. SEWA has developed its activities based ont he reality and issue faced by members. From this approach employment has emerged as priority of the SEWA movement as well as the organisation. Over two decades, that employment or economic activity is the main entry point for organising poor, self-employed women and having an impact on their lives.

Ensuring and organizing for full employment and self reliance of workers and their organisations are the goals of SEWA and organisingn for full employment shereby women will have regular work and income so that they can provide for their own basic needs like food, health-care, child-care and shelter at the very least SEWA's unions, co-operatives and supportive services are all working towards full emplooyment.

Being self-reliant and on one's own feet is the next priority of SEWA's members. Self-reliance in the economic sense as well as in terms of decision-making and control is important to our members, because it is through self-reliance and autonomy that members hope to shape and influence the society.

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