City-based Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is set to explore trade linkages with five African nations – South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania – under the aegis of its six-year-long ‘SETU Africa programmes’ to help strengthen their women cooperatives.
This comes in the wake of a delegation of 15 Tanzanian union Self Help Group (SHG) leaders and NGO coordinators who are in Ahmedabad this week to study SEWA’s organising of informal workers. They will implement the same into their own Membership-Based Organisations (MBO) like unions and cooperatives.
Mirai Chatterjee, chairperson of VimoSEWA said, “We want to encourage women-to-women trade linkages that could benefit the primary producer, but currently there are high trade barriers in terms of high custom duties. We have written a note to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and asked the Indian government to help mitigate the challenges posed by high tariffs and facilitate trade between primary producers which are women in this case. A few of SEWA’s best practices that these African woman leaders hope to replicate include our board structure existing in sister organisations, our Bal Seva Kendras model and how to strengthen cooperatives. We hope this programme will benefit close to 1,00,000 women who are part of these cooperatives in the African nations.”
The Tanzanian delegation along with a three-member team from Mozambique are in Ahmedabad to learn about how to organise women workers at the grassroot level and help them build their own sustainable MBOs through an integrated approach.
Rahema, a woman leader, who was part of the African delegation said, “We want to have our own women’s bank like SEWA bank, so that we can get working capital to build our businesses.”
Shreekant Kumar, Director of SETU Africa programme said the 10-day visit will conclude with a workshop in Delhi with SEWA’s national federation – SEWA Bharat that will be attended by representatives of Indian government.
SEWA and its sister organisations led by VimoSEWA have been promoting and strengthening women-led organisations in South Africa, Ethiopia and Tanzania since 2012.