Janhavi Dave is the International Coordinator of HomeNet South Asia. As an International Coordinator, Ms. Dave is the operational head of the organisation. Ms. Dave is entrusted with the responsibility of planning, implementing, and coordinating HomeNet South Asia’s work across the eight South Asian countries. She has dedicated much of her career towards economic empowerment for informal economy, women workers through livelihoods support, access to finance and advocacy for inclusive public policy. Over the years she has worked with Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), IFMR Trust (now Dvara Trust) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). Ms. Dave is also on the Board of Directors of the Business, Enterprise, and Employment Support (BEES) Network – a South Asian network, that’s facilitated by the World Bank for women’s economic empowerment through enterprise support.
In 1993, waste pickers and itinerant waste buyers in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad came together to form Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a membership-based trade union. The union aimed to establish and assert waste pickers’ contribution to the environment, their status as workers and their crucial role in the Solid Waste Management (SWM) of the city. Today, KKPKP has 9000 plus members, 80 per cent of whom are women from socially backward and marginalised castes. Each member pays an annual fee to the organization and an equal amount towards their life insurance cover. Members are given I-cards that are endorsed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and can avail of other benefits like interest-free loans and educational support for their children. SWaCH is a wholly-owned workers’ cooperative, as a Pro-poor Public Private Partnership, that undertakes waste management in Pune. The SWaCH door-to-door waste collection model is based on recovery of user fees from service users and provision of infrastructure and management support from the municipality also plays an enabling role. Lakshmi Narayanan has been working with waste pickers in Pune since 1989. She is one of the founders of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat and SWaCH.
She is working in SEWA for the past 31 years. SEWA is a Central Trade Union working in 17 states with more than 17 lakh women members in the informal sector. Her major Role is in the following :
– Policy Intervention on issues of the informal sector at local, national, international Level.
– Developing strategies and carrying out activities towards providing them full employment and self reliance
– Representing the informal sector in the Joint Committee of Central Trade Unions
SEWA’s been working with the street vendors for the past 40 years and have been struggling hard to enable them to have a status of a self employed and have a Law for them. After much intervention Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act, 2014 was made. SEWA played a major and important role in its formulation.
– Heading the Legal Cell of SEWA and Monitoring and guiding the legal activities carried out for members (such as Court cases). The Labour Codes which are being formed currently, Representing the women workers of the informal sector to ensure that their voice and visibility is sustained and included in these Codes.
Based in Kerala .Has a long experience of working in coastal communities. Founding member of SEWA Kerala and now responsible for the sector of domestic workers in SEWA
Renana Jhabvala is an Indian social worker, who has been active for decades in organising women in the informal economy into trade unions, co-operatives and financial institutions in India, and has been extensively involved in policy issues relating to poor women and the informal economy. She is best known for her long association with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India, and for her writings on issues of women in the informal economy.
In 1990, she was awarded a Padma Shri from the Government of India for her contributions in the field of social work. In April 2012, She was Chancellor Gandhigram Rural University (2012-2017) and was Member of UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016-2017).
Cities and Women Informal Workers
The vast majority of urban workers in India today (nearly 80 per cent) are informally employed. The urban informal workforce is engaged in a wide range of activities from manufacturing in small family units, to services like domestic workers and electricians, to trade in small shops or on the streets, to manual labour, notably in construction, to transport workers. Women are a particularly invisible part of this urban workforce as they tend to be home-based workers who produce goods and services in their own homes or domestic workers: neither group gets properly counted in official statistics. For the urban informal workforce, particularly the self-employed, city planning, policies and practices have a major impact on their livelihoods.
Informal workers are disadvantaged by city policies in a number of different ways. Many of them need to use public spaces in order to earn their livelihood. For example, street vendors need to vend in open-air markets, transport workers and waste pickers need to use public roads. The transport system tends to work against them, since it is often too expensive given their meagre earnings and doesn’t allow them to carry goods, and walking on city roads can be hazardous, especially for women. Zoning regulations work against them as their home is often their workplace, especially for home-based workers and family enterprises. Most informal workers live in informal settlements and are often under threat of relocation, which destroys or undermines their livelihood opportunities. Women workers face special difficulties in informal settlements as shortage of water and sanitation means that they have less time to earn.
INHAF, the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) are planning two linked webinars on cities and informal workers in India. The first webinar focuses on how city plans, policies and practices impact and urban informal workers; and the second highlights the important role of how women informal workers, the difficulties they face due to their invisibility and the importance of urban policies which would benefit them.
Informal workers constitute the majority of the urban workforce, and population, but are at the periphery of city planning and policies. These two webinars will envision cities where the informal workers are recognized and become an important part of cities so that they have more secure and remunerative livelihoods and happier lives.
Executive Trustee, Mahila Housing SEWA Trust