IASEW builds leadership from the ground up within the communities it serves. We offer women training from literacy to leadership that increases their self-reliance and enables them to become key links in the chain of change within their communities.
More than 70 per cent of our staff comes from the informal economy and have been trained to become our leaders and organisers.
These leaders are women like Daxaben Solanki.
Daxaben studied to grade 12, but when she first came into contact with IASEW, she was shy and not self-reliant. Her financial conditions were extremely precarious — her husband had only seasonal employment, and Daxaben struggled to make up the difference. She packed ice cream spoons into containers and constantly looked for other work. One day, she visited her sister-in-law at the same time her sister was hosting a literacy class. She was amazed that a group of elderly women could learn literacy skills, and asked her sister-in-law to organise classes near her own home. Daxaben gathered twenty women together and classes soon began. The classes proved pivotal in changing the course of her life, and over the years she has taken IASEW trainings on leadership, organising, gender issues, and eventually the training of trainers.
Today, she has emerged as a strong grassroots leader:
—She’s helped almost 100 women enrol in a government training program where women learn construction skills while receiving a stipend
—She’s been instrumental in generating identity cards for women construction workers
—She’s helped almost 50 women enrol in the “U-win” card programme that facilitates delivery of government welfare schemes to informal sector workers
—She’s a leader of Sakhi Mandal, a self-organized group that provides loans to group members.
25-year-old Varshaben Shrimali is another one of our proud facilitators. A tailor who also run a beauty shop in her home, she is young, determined, and inspires with her work so far:
—She’s led 10 literacy classes, educating 250 women in basic language skills and also math. They can now easily travel on public transport, access mobile phones, order household gas, and now courageously asking for their deserving wages.
—She runs the Akashaganga Club, where adolescent girls create their own magazine, write, draw, learn language, and play games.
—She’s worked tirelessly to help her village access household santiation, despite villagers’ initial resistance. It is because of her hard efforts that 15 households have constructed in-home sanitation systems
—She’s also linked many people to the gas company to set up connection at home.
Danishben Sharafat Husain Saiyad is another leadership force to be reckoned with. Her journey as a key IASEW leader began when she started teaching literacy classes 16 years ago to meet the needs of women and girls in her community, who face child marriage, lack of education, and the lack of infrastructure. She took training from IASEW in order to understand how to work in the community and dove in, accomplishing the following:
—She’s organised and educated women on self-reliance and education in her village and in many surrounding villages
—She walks girls to school and takes them home to ensure their attendance
—She’s trained more than 200 leaders to take SEWA services to their communities
—She advocates constantly for girls in the Muslim community, who are often not allowed to go outside or access education
—She works tirelessly to connect workers to government schemes and necessary documents.