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