Research has played a vital role for SEWA since inception. The purpose of the research is to help in bringing positive changes in the lives and conditions of the unorganized women workers.


The Main Objectives of SEWA Research are:

  • Understand the socio-economic conditions and issues of women in the informal economy.
  • Conduct impact studies on the eleven principles of SEWA.
  • Evaluate SEWA interventions and campaigns.
  • Document the history of women’s struggles for economic and social security.
  • Bring, research on women in the informal economy, into the mainstream.

A Journey from 1991 to 2009:

Since 1991, the types of research studies conducted by the Research Unit vary from impact evaluations to technical studies, census, longitudinal studies, baseline surveys, socio-economic surveys, and diagnostic studies. Till date SEWA Research has completed over 140 studies on topics ranging from

  • Globalization of Garment sector
  • Gum Collector's struggle for survival
  • Financial crisis and its impact on its members, price rise and its impact on our members
  • Impact of financial Crisis on Self Employed
  • Education and social security need of women and girls
  • Empowering Adolescent Girls through Micro insurance- Need Assessment Study and many other.

In addition to meeting internal research needs, SEWA Research also conducts studies commissioned by other organizations and works in partnership on joint studies.

Distinctive Features:

1. Action-oriented Research

Research projects are action-oriented and support SEWA’s organising, programme development, and advocacy campaigns. Research at SEWA never sits on a bookshelf; it is actively shared and used as a tool to guide action. In fact, other organisations often use SEWA’s research when formulating, testing, or evaluating their own interventions.

2. Linking the Micro and Macro

SEWA’s research links grassroots issues and the local development context to government policies and the economic development process. Through its research, SEWA strives to understand the effect of macro policies on women in the informal economy. Moreover, SEWA documents alternative solutions at the grassroots level and then lobbies for them at the macro level.

3. Mainstreaming the Invisible

India’s total informal employment accounts for 93 per cent of all employment in the country. Informal workers are significant contributors to the economy, but still their contributions are not visible. SEWA’s research tries to fill this gap and encourage others to study the informal economy. SEWA’s research findings have been used as the basis to influence policymakers and call for widespread policy change at national and international levels.

4. Grassroots Presence: Building Strength from Within

One of SEWA’s most fundamental values is its commitment to build the capacity of its members through training. In this tradition, members have been trained to be an integral part of the research team and to establish a decentralized research structure.

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