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Women workers in the informal economy are unregulated, unprotected, and unseen. Their invaluable contribution to Delhi’s rapidly developing urban environment goes unappreciated while they remain vulnerable.

The risks women face include lack of any social services such as healthcare, employment benefits like maternity and sick leave, and additionally women do not have access to safe financial services that are an essential buffer to unavoidable life events (i.e. family death, traditional ceremonies, and education).

SEWA Delhi’s strategic positioning in the political capital of India makes it a first-hand organization to work for the legal recognition and rights of women workers in the informal economy. SEWA Delhi’s aims to secure full employment and self-reliance for women workers first through helping them get organized and develop into leaders called aagewans – See Aagewan development initiative.

SEWA Delhi also carries out advocacy for poor women workers.

Key organizing activities

Ideology trainings
SEWA Delhi’s ideology training program aims to generate awareness about the history, values, activities, and strength of women workers in the SEWA union. Ideology trainings are conducted in slum and resettlement colonies where many women in the informal economy live. Through ideology training, membership is fostered, SEWA values are inculcated, and members are encouraged to participate and share their problems.
Mohalla meetings
Mohalla (community) meetings bring communities of women together to voice their concerns and propose solutions to their issues. SEWA saathis (local community workers) organize mohalla meetings for micro-level agenda setting, and to identify and train aagewans (women leaders).
Legal trainings
Women workers in the informal economy are often unaware of their legal rights as citizens, the poor, workers, and otherwise. SEWA Delhi aims to first build the legal confidence of women workers and provides information on general issues, and specific laws and procedures that could apply to them.

  • Confidence building; awareness on general issues; information on– livelihood-based rights, FIRs, domestic violence, dowry prohibition, right to information, property matters
  • Keeping track of government initiatives and bills – providing inputs and recommendations on the same
  • Providing legal information through SEWA Shakti Kendra to ensure easy accessibility of legal knowledge
  • Legal awareness

Aagewan development initiative

Since 2012, SEWA Delhi kick started its aagewan initiative with the objective is to build capacity in the aagewans to ensure sustainability of its programs. Aagewans (those who come forward) are SEWA members who exhibit a natural tendency to take on a leadership role in their community. Aagewans are champions of the SEWA philosophy and are the driving force of SEWA’s organizing and advocacy efforts. They occupy a unique position in the organizational structure and form the link between SEWA staff and the membership base. SEWA Delhi has a cadre of 127 women aagewans.

Objectives of aagewan development
  • Develop agewans as champions/ambassadors of the SEWA movement
  • Agewans to be made the driving force of SEWA’s organizing and advocacy efforts
  • Agewans to be the problem-solvers, go-to persons for members of respective areas – first point of contact with the union
  • Agewans to be made to feel valuable not only for SEWA, but for society at large
  • Agewans to be developed in a way that they could train and build capacity of SEWA members by propagating SEWA’s ideology
  • Agewans to be developed as leaders of community action
Trainings for aagewans
SEWA Delhi organizes diverse training for aagewans to enable women to aagewans carry forward grassroots development to community women. Training sessions help them solve local community issues brought up in mohalla meetings. Regularly voluntary sessions of short durations (2 hours) are conducted to build women’s technical capacities.

  • Introductory sessions
    Acquainting them with SEWA programs as well as government schemes SEWA links members with. This includes training them on documentation required, processes to be followed in government offices and so on.
  • Ideology sessions
    Acquainting aagewans with the SEWA philosophy and the significance of unionization and inculcating a sense of responsibility in them towards SEWA members so they may become the driving force of SEWA’s efforts in the future.
  • Empowerment sessions
    Economic position of women, contribution of women to the economy, understanding gender-based power relations within family and society at large
  • Technical capacity building
    These sessions are conducted on a variety of issues such as financial literacy, basic health aweareness, and are conducted through out the year
  • Refresher sessions


13 Year Annual Report Annual Report