Fall 2015 Soffa Lecture

"Structural Inequalities and Poverty: Organizing for Economic Rights in India"

Headshot of Women wearing a sari

Renana Jhabvala, Self-Employed Women's Association 


September 30, 2015
Pyle Center

About the lecture:
Structural inequalities are one of the main reasons why widespread and deep poverty continues to exist despite continuous economic growth in India. Centuries-old inequalities due to caste, class and gender, are deepened by new processes thrown up by globalization. However, the changes due to globalization have also brought people together through new ways of organizing and have led to new directions in society. The lecture is about the structural economic injustices faced by the poorest working women and the experiences of Self Employed Women’s Association, a movement of two million women who have organized themselves for economic rights and in the process are changing economic and social structures. 

About the speaker: 

Renana Jhabvala is best known for her long association with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India and for her writings on issues of women in the informal economy. 

She represents SEWA at international levels including at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) where she was part of the movement to bring in Conventions for informal workers. She is one of the founders and present Chair of WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment and Organizing) based at Harvard University. 

She has been active in many Government committees and task forces which have formulated policies ranging from National Policy for Street vendors to the Law for Social Security of Unorganised Workers. She has written extensively on women in the informal economy and on Gandhian ways of struggle and is also presently Chancellor of Gandhigram Rural University.

Lecture Recording


Interview with The Progressive
"Labor and Women's Rights Champion Advice to the United States"
by Amitabh Pal
October 13, 2015
The Progressive

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