Ela Ramesh Bhatt, popularly known as Elaben, a noted Gandhian, leading women’s empowerment activist, and renowned founder of the Self-Employed Womens Association (SEWA) passed away recently.

 

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  • She was known as the “Gentle Revolutionary” who changed the lives of lakhs of women through her organisation, providing them microloans for five decades.
  • She was the founder of the Self-Employed Womens Association (SEWA).
  • SEWA was founded by her in 1972. It is one of the largest cooperatives working for women, with a base of over two million members from around 18 States in the country and in neighbouring nations.
  • She headed the women’s wing of Majdoor Mahajan Sangh – the Textile Labour Association founded by Anasuya Sarabhai and Mahatma Gandhi.
  • She was the chairperson of the Sabarmati Ashram Memorial and Preservation Trust, also co-founded the Womens World Banking, a global network of microfinance organisations, of which she was chairperson from 1984 to 1988.
  • She was also nominated to Rajya Sabha, was a member of the Planning Commission, and was advisor to organisations like the World Bank.
  • In 2007, she joined the Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela to promote human rights and peace.
  • She was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Ramon Magsaysay Award and Indira Gandhi International Prize for Peace among many other awards.