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Ela R. Bhatt to Receive Radcliffe Medal

4.28.11

Ela Bhatt

Ela Bhatt

Courtesy of Radcliffe Institute

Activist and entrepreneur Ela R. Bhatt, founder of the Self Employed Women’s Association in India and the Indian School of Micro-finance for Women, will speak to guests and receive the Radcliffe Medal during the Radcliffe Day luncheon on May 27. The association began as a women’s trade union in 1972, but has since evolved into a more comprehensive organization that also offers insurance, small loans, child care, and other critical services to support poor women laborers. SEWA operates more than 100 women-run cooperatives with about 1.25 million members.

Bhatt started out as a lawyer with the Textile Labour Association, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, with whom her grandparents had worked, and quickly became focused on the “invisible” home-based women workers, realizing that “although 80 percent of the women in India were economically active, they were outside the purview of legislation.” Bhatt is also a former member of the Indian Parliament (1986-1989).

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