Clinton to meet SEWA volunteers in Mumbai

MUMBAI - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will take time off her busy schedule to indulge in a cause dear to her heart, women’s empowerment, at a centre in south Mumbai.

She has agreed to spend about an hour interacting with the volunteers and artisans of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a non-government organisation founded by Ela Bhatt, said SEWA Director Reema Nanavaty.

“She is expected to go around and view the collections at the SEWA centre at Hansiba Creations on Napean Sea Road, interact with our shareholders and women artisans during her visit,” Nanavaty told IANS from Ahmedabad Thursday.

SEWA leaders, including Bhatt — whom Clinton had earlier described as “her hero”, Nanavaty and its general secretary Jyoti Macwan — shall also update Clinton on the progress and current status of Global Women’s Trade Finance Council.

The council was founded in 2007 in New York with Clinton and Bhatt as co-chairpersons, Nanavaty said.

Its objectives are to explore ways and means to highlight women’s efforts at the global level and link them to the world markets, she explained.

Clinton is no stranger to SEWA, its activities or its activists. In fact, she had first visited the SEWA headquarters, Ahmedabad in 1995 as the US First Lady.

Nanavaty said that over 200 women activists, at Clinton’s suggestion, formed the Women & Global Markets to establish a link between the underprivileged and the world market players. It works in the field of textiles and garments, and agriculture, she said.

As part of the initiative, the WGM has also worked with farmers in Africa and Mexico. “It is quite surprising, but women who made a significant contribution to agriculture, are hardly recognised as farmers,” Nanavaty said.

This would be the third interaction between Clinton and SEWA volunteers, earlier they had met her in New York and keep giving her regular updates on SEWA activities.

As part of its activities, SEWA runs a women’s bank, housing and social security schemes and takes up the causes of the people living and working in the lowest strata of society.

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