Self Employed Women's Association, Gujarat: A case study

Self Employed Women's Association, Gujarat: A case study

How can Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) change how an organisation functions? This document describes the Self Employed Women’s Association’s (SEWA) ICT and Community Learning Centre (CLC) initiative. SEWA is a women workers' association in India with the mandate of working with poor, self-employed women workers who are part of the informal unprotected labour sector of the country. SEWA initially installed computers in houses of its members in the villages and trained them how to use them. Eventually CLCs were established and equipped with basic IT tools and staffed by the women members who had received the initial training. Women members shared in focus group discussions, that the CLC space was used by them for several activities such as training, planning, workshops, meetings etc.

ICTs have vastly changed how SEWA itself functions. Through continuous training, staff members and many others are now proficient in using the Internet for sending e-mails. Reporting for various activities to various rungs of the organisation hence is often through mail. Several members, through SEWA Bank loans, have now even bought computers. One of the experiments with mobile phones undertaken by SEWA is the future pricing network. This is currently being undertaken for different crops in 16 villages. Prices are obtained from a central office and then sent by mail to all the CLCs. From there it is blasted to the mobile phone database. This has greatly contributed in better decision making by the farmer, especially on their choice of crop, rates to sell and markets to sell in. Women members shared that before these prices were available, farmers did not know the market rates of their produce and often got cheated. They affirmed that they could now take more informed decisions.

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