The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India


Primary information

Year formed
Formally registered
English, Hindi
Number of members
Type of members
Members are multi sector, Members are waste pickers
Occupation of members
Waste pickers
Type of Organization
Cooperative, Trade union
Organizational Reach
Workplace of members
Door to door, Home-based, Other, Street
Organization Structure
Organized around trades from Local to National level representation. One rep for each SEWA which forms the board of SEWA Bharat. The board elects central committee consisting of President, 2 VPs, Secretary and General Secretary
Work security, income security, food security, social security, develop and promote MBOs, capacity building, demands provision of Government funded Social Security, build enterprises, social and economic empowerment of waste pickers
A-international domestic workers federation (idwf)
Women composition

Social networking sites


Number of credit / saving members?


Complementary Information

Information source
WORD 15/11/2013, ASIA 2013

Comments / Narrative

SEWA’s involvement with waste pickers began in 1975 in Ahmedabad. Women textile workers and wives of male textile workers who had lost their jobs and resorted to waste picking for a livelihood, approached SEWA expressing their plight and hardships. SEWA then carried out a sample study of waste pickers and consequently decided to organize waste pickers with a view to increasing their income. As a first step, SEWA approached textile mills and requested their owners to draw contracts with waste pickers to allow them to pick up paper and other dry waste, which would ensure that waste pickers get a steady income and have better working conditions and thus, fewer health hazards as suffered by other waste pickers. SEWA also organized training programmes for waste pickers to educate them and make them aware of their rights. As a major initiative of SEWA in 1978, a general meeting of waste pickers was organized to chartout a future strategy in light of the fact that there was growing instability in their work. It was evident from what transpired at that meeting that creating alternative income generating activities were essential for waste pickers. Some alternative income generating options which emerged in the meeting were – (1) to develop the weaving skills of the women waste pickers particular those who belong to the weaving community work (2) to help those who were willing to do regular cleaning work for a salary, in getting institutional and domestic cleaning work (3) to engage waste pickers, and especially their daughters, in recycling paper and other waste. From time to time different waste pickers’ co-operative societies were formed. Around 1995, Shri Gitanjali Mahila SEWA Audhyogic Stationary Utpadak Sahakari Mandali Ltd was formed whose members were mainly daughters of waste pickers. This co-operative society was involved in manufacturing stationary and paper pulp items such as pens, paper bags, folders, registers, box files, spring files, notebooks, bookmarks, letter boxes, pen stands, CD covers, envelopes which continue to be manufactured and generate income. The mission: To provide alternate livelihood sources for our daughters so they don’t have to resort to waste picking.

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