The Self Employed Women’s Association is the largest co-operative in India, with membership topping 1,000,000 throughout the country and a recently opened school for young children. As a non-governmental organisation, it aims to help women become self-reliant by providing them with work to do at home or in their headquarters. As a member, each worker receives training, health care, childcare and financial services.

SEWA Lucknow, run by Runa Banerjee, came about after a Unicef sponsored study into the conditions of the chickankari artisans. This autonomous non-governmental organisation is based in Lucknow, the traditional heart of chickan embroidery. Sewa provides almost 8,000 women with needlework embroidery work to do at home or in their headquarters. The women are often the means of family support, tending to the animals, the home and the children. When women are given money it goes to the children, and their first priority is to education; they work to be self reliant and to bring their children out of poverty; of mind and circumstance.


The work produced by SEWA members embodies the great range of regional textile traditions and craftsmanship. for Runa Banerjees report.

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