Elaben Bhatt was the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) which is one of the biggest women’s cooperatives and national trade unions registered in 1972
Ahmadabad: Women’s Rights Crusader Ela R Bhatt passed away today. She was admitted to hospital as she was quite ill. She was 89 years old.
She was the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). SEWA is one of the biggest women’s cooperatives and national trade unions registered in 1972. The organization has a membership base of over 2.1 million poor, self-employed women workers from informal sectors across 18 states and units abroad.
Elaben also served as chairman of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT). Bhatt had recently resigned from the post of Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, founded by Mahatma Gandhi. She resigned as her health conditions were not good.
Born on September 7, 1933, to an activist mother Vanalilaben, and advocate father Sumantrai Bhatt in Ahmedabad, Elaben grew up in a politically charged-up family environment, which sowed the seeds of social action even before she turned 14. She went to the Sarwajanik Girls High school in Surat and graduated from MTB Arts College. Later she pursued law from Ahmadabad and bagged a gold medal in Hindu Law. She was married to Ramesh Bhatt, an Economics professor at Gujarat Vidhyapeeth.
After completing law, in 1955 she joined the legal department of the oldest union of textile workers called the Textile Labour Association.
The social activist was appointed a Rajya Sabha MP. She served as MP till 1989. In 2007 she joined Nelson Mandela’s founded Elders group to promote human rights and peace.
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