Ela Bhatt
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Ela Bhatt
Ela Bhatt is an Indian Social Worker. She is the founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association, an organization devoted to protecting the rights of women in the workforce. She has also participated in the UN World Conference on Women, and has been honored with the Global Fairness Initiative and Right Livelihood Awards.
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Abstract

It's 1933: Adolf Hitler has just been named Chancellor of Germany, FDR takes office as President of the United States, and in Ahmedabad, India, Ela Bhatt is born.
As the only child of a successful lawyer and an active women's rights worker, she was  well-educated and exposed to the independence movement from a rather young age. Her grandfather worked with Mohandas Gandhi, and while Ela Bhatt never met him, Gandhi's beliefs and works influenced her greatly. It was both Gandhi's and her father's influence that led her to become a lawyer. It was in this vocation that she began working for the Textile Labour Association, something that would change her life. To her dismay, she found that the women in the textile business were being overworked and underpaid, and had little to no representation. She is quoted as saying, "I realized that although eighty percent of women in India are economically active, they are outside the purview of legislation. Personally, I don't think there can be any greater injustice to anybody in the world than to have one's work contribution negated… Who is the backbone of any economy in the world? It's the poor! Yet they are not recorded as workers in the national census. They are described as non-workers!" Incensed by her findings, Bhatt decided to follow the example of Gandhi and work to solve what she saw to be the great problem of the country. In 1994, Ela Bhatt founded the Self-Employed Women's Association (or SEWA, which means "service" in Hindi) to help the exploited female workers. In 1974, SEWA created its own bank to provide loans and assistance to illiterate women who were being taken advantage of by other banks. The SEWA micro-finance model has proven so successful that it is used by similar programs across the world. In recognition of her work, Bhatt was named one of the women on the panel at the 1975 UN World Conference on Women, which led to the creation of Women's World Banking, and organization chaired by Bhatt since 1985. She is also a member of The Elders, a group made up of some of the most influential and well-known human rights advocates in the world. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Right Livelihood Award for "Changing the Human Environment", which is considered to be equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize. Over the last few decades, Ela Bhatt has helped thousands of women, and has created an organization that will continue to help them even after she is gone. Her years of service and status as one of the premier female human rights activists in the world definitely qualify her for "Changemaker" status.

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Interview

An interview with Ela Bhatt by the Berkley Center. This is important because it gives an insight into why Ela Bhatt became who she is and gives a deeper look into what she thinks of her successes.

 

http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/interviews/a-discussion-with-ela-bhatt-founder-self-employed-womens-association-sewa

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SEWA Website

Link to the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) website. This applies to Ela Bhatt because she founded this organization, an organization that deeply impacted millions of women in India

 

http://www.sewa.org/

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Works Cited


Bhatt, Ela. “A Discussion with Ela Bhatt, Founder, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).” Interview by Katherine Marshall. Berkley Center. Georgetown University, 17 May 2010. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. <http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/‌interviews/‌a-discussion-with-ela-bhatt-founder-self-employed-womens-association-sewa>.
“Ela Bhatt.” Teaching Tolerance. Southern Poverty Law Center, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. <http://www.tolerance.org/‌activity/‌ela-bhat>.
“Self-Employed Women’s Association /‌ Ela Bhatt.” Right Livelihood Award. Right Livelihood Award, 1984. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. <http://www.rightlivelihood.org/‌sewa.html>.
SEWA: Self-Employed Women’s Association. SEWA, 10 Jan. 2012. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. <http://www.sewa.org>.

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Right Livelihood Award

Ela Bhatt's brief biography given when winning the Right Livelihood Award (an alternative to the Nobel Prize) in 1984.

 

http://www.rightlivelihood.org/sewa.html

This is releivant because it gives information about why Ela Bhatt was awarded the Right Livelihood Award.

 

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Book on Amazon

A link to Ela Bhatt's book We Are Poor but So Many: The Story of Self-Emplyed Women in India

 

http://www.amazon.com/Are-Poor-but-Many-Self-Employed/dp/0195169840/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;amp;qid=1326220996&amp;amp;sr=8-1

This is important because, like the interview, it gives insight into her life and beliefs, and detailed information about her life and actions.

 

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