Case Studies


  • Rehanaben lives in Juhapura area, Ahmedabad. She shares, ‘I have studied till standard 7 at my village. When I migrated to Ahmedabad, I was unable to read and write in Gujarati. I was not able to sign and read the hoardings on street that deprived me of information related to festivals, fairs, sales, etc but after joining the literacy class, I can now read as well write Gujarati’.

  • Kavitaben, living in Shankarbhuvan area, Ahmedabad, used to stitch rug sack earlier, and then she underwent stitching training, that requires use of inch tape. Being an illiterate she was unable to do that. After participating in SEWA Academy's Literacy Class, she is able to work effectively and now she knows how to measure with an inch tape.

  • Sonaben, residing in Gomtipur area was involved in the work of washing old containers. With great hardships she managed to educate her only son and married him. After marriage the expenses mounted. Son and daughter-in-law got labour work at Deesa. Sonaben was very happy to receive the news of daughter-in-law’s pregnancy. After some days, Sonaben received a post card, being unable to read-write, she took it to neighbours. The neighbours were having dinner, and asked Sonaben to come later. Then Sonaben went to another neighbours, they were watching TV and asked her to come later. Then she went to a local store and requested the shopkeeper, who said there are many customers right now and asked her to come later. On 4th day, Sonaben stopped a girl on her way to school and requested her; she read, ‘Daughter-in-law is unwell, please come once you receive the letter’. That day she decided that life without education is useless and once she returned from Deesa, she became the member of SEWA Academy’s 1st Literacy Class in 1992. At the age of 55, she learned to read! She is very proud that she can also write a little.

  • Shakinaben, 40, illiterate is originally from Bihar. Migrated to Gujarat and living in Fatehwadi area, Ahmedabad, she engages at present in stitching work from her house. Being from a hindi speaking state she faced problems reading Gujarati Language. Looking at other women from her community she also joined SEWA Academy’s Literacy Classes. After just six months she is able to speak in Gujarati. Interestingly, during her visit to Bihar, she interacted in Gujarati with her old friends, they asked her from where did she learn Gujarati, to this she said with pride, ‘I learnt to speak in Gujarati in the Literacy class conducted by SEWA Academy.’

     Skill Education and Communication Centre

  • Aartiben Jadav, 18, had studied FY B.Com. Aartiben participated in beauty care training and started earning. Besides beauty care, she also participated in member education, video replay trainings. She also learned about radio, research and Anasooya. She was recruited as Literacy Class’s spearhead team member. Currently, she is assisting Arunaben in the Centre.

  • Ushaben Patni, 18, left studies after standard 5 as her mother was not keeping well. She used to take care of her younger brother and sister, cook and look after the home. She couldn’t learn tailoring due to high fees. But when SEWA Academy started Skill Education and Communication Centre in their area she enrolled in Readymade Garments training. She also participated in Video and Photography Training. Today, she earns by stitching shirts.

     Life skills training for Adolescent Girls

  • Prabhaben, 19, final year student of Arts, belongs to a poor family of construction labourers. She has three younger siblings. One of the SEWA leader, looking at her interest in studies and ambition to grow further, guided her to enroll for computer classes run by SEWA Academy. She consulted her mother to carry on with the computer class. However her mother refused indicating the abysmal economic condition of the family. But Prabhaben was determined to go ahead and learn computer. She decided to help her mother in construction work and earned enough to bear expenses related to fees of computer class, travelling cost and nonetheless her college fees. SEWA Academy’s trainers empathized with her in achieving her dream.

  • Reenaben, 20, at present studying in MA, was deprived of a father since childhood. Struggle began in her life when she was 3 year old. Her mother and grandmother worked day long to earn one day’s meal. Reenaben and her family always emphasized on the importance of education. Reenaben borrowed books from her friends and did her studies. She was referred by Ela Bhatt, Founder, SEWA to study computers in SEWA Academy. As Reenaben’s grandmother worked hand in hand during the initial phases of SEWA. SEWA Academy trainers played the role of a facilitator and enabler to shape her personality. Today because of the undivided attention of Academy’s trainers and Reenaben herself, she is computer literate and works in SEWA Bank with pride.

  • Bhavanaben, 19, is a student of commerce. Her mother being a widow was thrown out of her in-laws family along with her children and had to take refuge in her parental family. Her mother took tuitions and paid all the expenses of her children. Her mother is also a member of SEWA. One day a trainer from SEWA Academy went to introduce SEWA’s work in the community. From there her mother came to know about computer class run by SEWA Academy at less fees in comparison to other computer institutes. She prepared Bhavanaben to take the class. Now when Bhavan has completed her MS Office. She want to further learn DTP, Tally and Photoshop. To fulfill her zest for studying further SEWA Academy’s trainers provide support, guidance and help whenever required.

  • Zarinaben, 11, never stepped out of her house. But after joining the Akashganga club her confidence increased. She had never watched a stage show but she performed a patriotic song along with her friends on stage. After her performance she cried. Now she participates and believes in realizing her dreams without any hesitation.


  • Exercising control over children’s future: I sent my daughters (aged 8,11 and 12 years old) to Kadi town for their education. But my father-in-law thinks it is an improper decision and says I am destroying the family reputation. He taunts me every day and sometimes I feel like dropping them out of school. But then I feel that, rather than living life like we did, education will at least help them to improve skills of their life. How long will I be able to fight against society and be able to provide education to my daughters?
    From field notes
    Source: Jhabvala, R., Desai, S., & Dave, J. (2010) Empowering Women In An Insecure World Joining SEWA Makes A Difference, supported by: The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

  • Caste Discrimination: View from the Field – I would like to share my own experience in the survey related to caste discrimination. Caste is less visible in the cities, but in the villages it is still prevalent quite strongly. In several villages visited by us, people belonging to the Harijan, Bhangi, Vaghri castes are not allowed to enter the houses of Patels, Darbars, Bharwards and these high-caste people never go to the houses of low-caste people. When low castes go for daily labour in their fields, their drinking water pot is kept separate. When they drink water they cannot touch the glass with their lips. If this rule is not observed they are insulted and abused. In some villages, low-caste families cannot play music, go out on a procession or light fire crackers in their marriage programmes.
    When we went to village G for the survey, the Sarpanch made arrangements for lunch at his place, but we were made to sit outside the house to eat. The lady of the house came and asked us, ‘Which caste are you? You all seem to be from different castes.’ In another village, we had to fill the form of a high-caste Darbar respondent, but before we could ask any questions they asked, ‘Which caste do you belong to?’ They didn’t allow us to enter this house and gave us water outside. Source: Observation of a field investigator in GSIS.
    Source: Standing, G., Unni, J., Jhabvala, R., & Rani, U. (2010) Social Income and Insecurity A Study in Gujarat, New Delhi: Routledge


  • Manjulaben Raval was working as Head Loader since she was 8 years old. Being SSC pass, Manjulaben used to help the team leader of head loader’s group in writing reports. It was the team leader who informed Manjulaben that SEWA has a department called Video who was looking for women. Manjulaben applied at Video SEWA, was selected from among hundreds and received extensive video training. She is working with Video SEWA since past 17 years. She is proficient at recording, editing, video replay and providing photography, videography training. She has developed short video programmes on Head Loaders and Flower Mandali. She is proud to be part of Video SEWA through which they bring women issues to the mainstream and try to bring change in their lives. Manjulaben’s only wish is to educate her daughter in English School to facilitate her progress.

  • Arunaben Parmar, 35 years of age has studied till SYBA. She is most educated among her siblings. She had to drop-out of school when she was in standard 5 to support her family as the mill, where her father worked, close-down. She started doing the screen printing work which her mother used to do, to earn Rs. 40/- per day. After one and half year when the mill reopened she resumed her schooling. From the start she aspired to do something different. Her mother became member of SEWA and used to attend meetings at SEWA, where Arunaben used to accompany her mother. In 1993, Arunaben received an opportunity to be a trainee with Video SEWA and soon she picked up and became technically proficient. When she started her journey with Video SEWA she was afraid to make use of expensive equipments, today she expertly operates sound, lights, editing and camera work. She is proud to be associated with Video SEWA. 


  • Veenaben Shrimali, 34 years old is a very lively person. Residing in Nidhral village, Sanand Taluka, she has 2 daughters and 1 son. Just standard 10 pass, she had never worked before joining Community Radio Station (CRS). Till her association with CRS 7 months before, she had just listened to radio and had never thought in her dreams that she will work in a Radio Station. Today, she expertly make use of Sound Forge Software for her work and makes master programmes efficiently. She collects programmes from 40 villages. In spite of high fever, she gave her first on-air transmission which involved opening, closing, linking, sequencing the transmission, promos, programme details, etc which shows her determination and deep involvement with CRS. Her family reminds her the time of transmission which is 4 to 8 pm. She reaches home at 9 pm at night in auto rickshaw provided by office. Still women working late at night is not easily acceptable in cities then we can understand that the situation in rural India. And yet her husband and father-in-law are very supportive including her entire family.

  • Parulben Rawat, 24 years old is working with Rudi no Radio since last 4 years. When Parulben was studying in First Year she came to know about SEWA Academy’s Computer Class through her aunt. Her mother works as domestic help and father drives an auto rickshaw. She attended MS Office and Tally Classes in SEWA Academy. Today, working with Rudi no Radio, Parulben not only skillfully operates computer but also knows editing, recording and gujarati typing. She considers that the opportunity to work with Rudi no Radio is the best part of her life.

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