ACCESS Health Partners with SEWA: Supporting Women in the Informal Economy

The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and ACCESS Health International have come together in a bid to assess the current status of and redesign the existing components of the SEWA model, through innovative approaches to care delivery for low-income populations.

SEWA is an organization of informal women workforce that works to create alternatives for women in all spheres of life. SEWA is a trade union started by women workers in Gujarat in 1972. It was born out of the Textile Labor Association and has become one of the largest and oldest unions of textile workers.

The key dimensions of the partnership include costing of noncommunicable disease services, distribution, skill-mix, and motivation of human resources, health financing from the patient perspective, digital tools for care management, systems for monitoring and evaluation, and options for ensuring financial sustainability. ACCESS Health will conduct a situation analysis followed by supporting the design and implementation of innovations to the SEWA model.

Informal women workers constitute about 94 percent of the female labour force in India. They struggle for social security and overall protection. As part of their mission to provide holistic social security and health benefits, SEWA launched Swasth Samuday Program for reducing mortality and morbidity associated with NCDs in low income communities. Besides deterrents to accessibility and affordability of health care, there are challenges like the lack of awareness about the quality of care and importance of prevention and diagnosing noncommunicable diseases besides treatment. Rural women also do not have access to high quality clinical care and the public and private health systems are not adequate enough in terms of service delivery.

SEWA has been recognized globally for its work and has expanded to several states in India. SEWA’s core mission is to reach vulnerable women in the informal economy through its member institutions.