Elaben Bhatt

Helping India’s working women nets Thakore award

September 24, 2009

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Self-employed women in India have made great strides thanks to the life-long efforts of Elaben Bhatt.

The internationally known women’s rights activist will receive the 2009 Thakore Visiting Scholar award on Oct. 2. She is being recognized for spearheading improvements to working conditions and compensation for working women in India, and for forming the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

The India Club of Vancouver and the Thakore Charitable Foundation sponsor the award jointly with the Institute for the Humanities at SFU. The award honours people who show qualities valued by Gandhi—creativity, commitment, and a concern for truth, justice and non-violence.

A lawyer by training, Bhatt founded SEWA in 1972 in the city of Ahmedabad. It is the largest trade union in India with close to 1.1 million members.

"Her life-long contributions encompass the women’s movement, democratic alternatives to large bureaucracies, civil disobedience and working for the welfare and autonomy of self-employed women who work in all walks of life, " says Jerry Zaslove, professor emeritus and former director of the humanities institute.

Bhatt is also a co-founder of Women’s World Banking and the author of We are Poor but So Many; the story of self-employed women in India, published by Oxford (2006).

Bhatt will receive the award at the Burnaby campus on Oct. 2 (the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi). The free event begins at 6:45 pm in Peace Square, followed by the presentation at 7:30 pm in Images Theatre.


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