A Stitch in Time

July 18, 2009
Secretary Clinton With Self Employed Women's Association in Mumbai

Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Christine Dal Bello serves as Acting Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India.

I am reminded of the hard work of the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in Mumbai every time I wear my favorite shirt. It is a homespun cotton short kurta in blue with beige embroidery that I bought during a trip to Ahmedabad, SEWA's home, while accompanying an American Center-sponsored speaker from Ashoka, a group that nurtures social entrepreneurs. After visiting the SEWA offices and learning about their extensive reach and impressive projects, we received the suggestion that beautiful clothing and other items produced by artisans that are beneficiaries of SEWA's microfinance programs were available at SEWA's retail store, Hansiba. I was so happy with my purchase that I made a special trip back to the store on a subsequent visit. It was therefore to my great happiness that a Hansiba store was opened in Mumbai.

The store happens to be on the route I take to drop my daughter off at school and it serves as a daily and powerful reminder of the power of the nongovernmental sector. Founded by Ela Bhatt and Reema Nanavaty in 1972, the SEWA is known as a pioneer in grassroots development. It is the largest union, with one million members, of informal sector workers in India. The SEWA Cooperative Bank, founded in 1974, impacts more than three million people. They have expanded beyond India and are now working in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and other countries. In fact, Secretary Clinton was served nuts from Afghanistan that were produced as part of a SEWA initiative.

This visit was also a reunion as Secretary of State Clinton has known founders Ela Bhatt and Reema Nanavaty since 1995, when the Secretary visited SEWA headquarters in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. In fact, the cover of the April 1995 issue of SPAN magazine, features a photo of Secretary Clinton and Ms. Bhatt. They have continued to stay in touch and the Secretary and Ms. Nanavaty worked together to form the Women's Trade and Finance Council (WTFC) in partnership with the Global Fairness Initiative.

During the visit, the artisans themselves took center stage as they demonstrated their embroidery and sewing techniques to the Secretary, while explaining how SEWA, through the access to markets, microloans, and banking services it offers, allows them to make a living from their craft.

The visit ended with a moving rendition of the Gujarati language version of "We Shall Overcome."

Comments

Comments

Gabriel M.
|
Greece
July 18, 2009

Gabriel M. in Greece writes:

How precious to give and share a smile and to this part of the world, Beautiful Moments.

Tanya
|
New York, USA
July 18, 2009

Tanya in New York writes:

I am so pleased to see Secretary Clinton visiting with women in India who are working through microfinance loans, supporting themselves and their families. I am also so happy to see Secretary Clinton smiling and enjoying herself. Best wishes to her and her team as she makes this important trip to India and Thailand.

My best regards,

Tanya D.

Brian
|
California, USA
July 18, 2009

Brian in California writes:

I am very proud to be a American! Thank you for making me proud again, just like the Clinton years.

Normita
|
California, USA
July 18, 2009

Normita in California writes:

I can't help but smile as I view the beautiful image of Secretary Clinton surrounded by friendly faces everywhere she goes. Her work is greatly appreciated, her courage and compassion are very visible. God bless you, Secretary Clinton, and thank you for your service.

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
July 18, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

Ah! They sang to her! We are so lucky to have her as our beautiful face - our Valentine - to the world. She is simply the best!

Maria
|
Florida, USA
July 18, 2009

Maria in Florida writes:

Secretary Clinton has brought some hope to India. They love her. The smiles tell us volumes. How proud I am of our wonderful State Dept. The many hours of planning for this trip can be seen in the photo's. I know Madam Sec. is enjoying every moment she is in India. Be safe Madam Secretary and God Bless your kind and wonderful heart.

Edite
|
Canada
July 19, 2009

Edite in Canada writes:

Why do the previous comments all sound like they have been written by the same individual?

Lorette
|
New York, USA
July 19, 2009

Lorette in New York writes:

Hillary Clinton is a role model for woman all around the world.

Patrick
|
Maryland, USA
July 20, 2009

Patrick in Maryland writes:

Hello, My Special Friends At The Department Of States. :)

I hope everyone is have a Great Week.

I have been watching the latest States Department videos. Secretary Clinton looks Energized this week. It looks like her recovery is going well.

It looks like she had a good time Visiting India. I read they are opening a New Consulate Complex there. I think that is Great . I hope they have that party they were talking about when she leaves. LOL :)

.....Have...A...Great...Week.....Cya :):)

rosey
July 20, 2009

Rosey writes:

thanks......

How precious to give and share a smile and to this part of the world, Beautiful Moments......

Tommy
|
District Of Columbia, USA
July 20, 2009

Tommy in Washington, DC writes:

Very informative article. The author is in tune with what Sec. Clinton said but many of the comments do not seem to be.

The decades of hard work by Ms Bhatt, Ms Nanavaty and SEWA are the real stars in this story -- not the fact that Clinton has gone to India. This shouldn't be overlooked no matter how special the dignitary is.

Thank you to Sec. Clinton and the author for helping bring the world's attention to the work that these remarkable women have done for India and the world! They are already heroines in other parts of the world. We Americans have as much to learn from these women as Indians can learn from Sec Clinton. They also bring us hope!

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