Ela Bhatt, Padma Bhushan recipient, SEWA Founder & Women’s empowerment activist passes away

Elaben Bhatt was globally recognized as a woman leader who had founded many welfare institutions. SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association) founded by Elaben Bhatt in 1972 became one of the largest cooperatives working for women with a base of over 2 million members. 

Ela Bhatt passes away
Ela Bhatt passes away

Ela Bhatt SEWA: 89-years old Elaben Bhatt, a noted Gandhian, a leading women’s empowerment activist and a renowned founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) passed away on November 2, 2022, in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gujarat after a brief illness.

Elaben Bhatt was globally recognized as a woman leader who had founded many welfare institutions. She carried out pioneering work in successfully organizing the informal sector for self-employment and empowerment of women not only in the country but across South Asia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among those who condoled the demise of Elaben Bhatt. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendra Patel, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, and many other political leaders also expressed their condolences on the demise of Ela Bhatt.

Ela Bhatt: SEWA Founder, women’s empowerment activist & a true Gandhian

SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association) was founded by Elaben Bhatt in 1972. It is one of the largest cooperatives working for women with a base of over 2 million members from around 18 states in India and the neighboring nations.

Elaben was the Chairperson of Sabarmati Ashram and had recently resigned as the Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi-founded Gujarat Vidhyapith.

Elaben Bhatt: Achievements and work of a lifetime

  1. In 2007, Elaben Bhatt became part of a group of world leaders called the Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela to promote human rights and peace across the world.
  2. Bhatt was also a Member of the Rajya Sabha and of the Planning Commission of India in the 1980s.
  3. She had served in many international organisations, including Women’s World Banking, a global network of microfinance organizations, of which she was also a co-founder and had served as chairperson.
  4. Bhatt served as an advisor to the World Bank and addressed the United Nations General Assembly.
  5. In 2013, Elaben Bhatt was praised by the then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She mentioned Ela Bhatt as one of her personal heroes who provided microloans to women in India for 46 years. Clinton further added that Bhatt’s work embodies the principle that every person should have the chance to achieve his or her dreams and make the most of their God-given potential.

Elaben Bhatt: Background

Ela Bhatt was born on September 7, 1933, in Ahmedabad, in a family that engaged in social causes. Sumant Bhatt, her father was a lawyer who served as a district judge and was also later appointed the Charity commissioner for Bombay and then Gujarat. He supervised the work of all charitable organisations, trusts, and NGOs.

Ela Bhatt’s mother Vanalila Bhatt served as a Secretary of the Gujarat branch of the All India Women’s Conference for some time. The organization which was founded by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay in 1927 worked for social and educational reforms.

After graduating, Ela entered the Sir L.A. Shah Law College in Ahmedabad. In 1954, she received a degree in law and won a Gold Medal for her work on Hindu Law.

Ela Bhatt: Awards & Honours

Ela Bhatt was the recipient of various national and international awards, including the Padma Bhushan, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize, and many other accolades. She was globally recognized as a women leader.

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