Gujarat State Women’s SEWA Co-operative Federation’s history can be traced back to the struggle for workers’ rights led by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Since its inception in 1971 and recognition in 1972, the SEWA trade union has worked actively to promote the rights of women working in the informal economy. But, alongside the struggle for rights was the existing need of the women to earn a livelihood. SEWA initiated several cooperatives for these workers, across sectors. SEWA believes that the cooperative model creates fair employment and decent work, accounting for the needs of women in the informal economy.
Building cooperatives across sectors also brought to the forefront the needs of women workers to efficiently manage the co-operatives and to access markets. At a meeting in April 1992, 900 women from various categories of co-operatives presented issues and problems of their trade to the Union Minister of Cooperatives. While the cooperatives belonged to different trades and services, they all needed a strong, cohesive force that encouraged, catalyzed and led their growth: SEWA Federation was envisioned with this necessity in mind.
On 31st December 1992, India’s first Women’s Federation, the Gujarat State Women’s SEWA Co-operative Federation Limited was formally established. The Federation was tasked with supporting SEWA’s cooperatives in Capacity Building for Management, Marketing, and Policy and Advocacy Interventions with Key Stakeholders.
In 1996, the Federation became a member of the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI).