Research has played a vital role for SEWA since inception in helping bring positive changes in the lives and conditions of informal women workers. Research at SEWA never sits on a bookshelf; it is actively shared and used as a tool to guide action.

To date, SEWA has completed over 140 studies from impact evaluations to technical studies, census, longitudinal studies, baseline surveys, socio-economic surveys, and diagnostic studies. 

In addition to meeting internal research needs, SEWA Research conducts studies commissioned by other organisations and works in partnership on joint studies.

IASEW has conducted recent research partnerships with the following organizations: Samarth, in order to evaluate success of Hepatitis B education campaigns; Association for Stimulating Know How (ASK), in order to enumerate a householder survey around toilet access; Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), on how technology impacts the working poor; and SEWA Bank, conducting a needs assessment. 




All SEWA research centres around the following objectives:

—Understanding the socio-economic conditions and issues of women in the informal economy.

—Conducting impact studies on the eleven principles of SEWA.

—Evaluating SEWA interventions and campaigns.

—Documenting the history of women’s struggles for economic and social security.

—Bringing research on women in the informal economy into the mainstream.


Distinctive Features of SEWA Research

1. Action-oriented Research

Research projects are action-oriented and support SEWA’s organising, programme development, and advocacy campaigns. Research at SEWA never sits on a bookshelf; it is actively shared and used as a tool to guide action. In fact, other organisations often use SEWA’s research when formulating, testing, or evaluating their own interventions.


2. Linking the Micro and Macro

SEWA’s research links grassroots issues and the local development context to government policies and the economic development process. Through its research, SEWA strives to understand the effect of macro policies on women in the informal economy. Moreover, SEWA documents alternative solutions at the grassroots level and then lobbies for them at the macro level.


3. Mainstreaming the Invisible

India’s total informal employment accounts for 93 per cent of all employment in the country. Informal workers are significant contributors to the economy, but still their contributions are not visible. SEWA’s research tries to fill this gap and encourage others to study the informal economy. SEWA’s research findings have been used as the basis to influence policymakers and call for widespread policy change at national and international levels.


4. Grassroots Presence: Building Strength from Within

One of SEWA’s most fundamental values is its commitment to build the capacity of its members through training. In this tradition, members have been trained to be an integral part of the research team and to establish a decentralized research structure.


To learn more about working with IASEW on your research initiative, please contact us.