Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA - Lucknow) is an autonomous organisation of Chikan artisans. Impetus for setting up SEWA-Lucknow came from a UNICEF sponsored study conducted in 1979 on the condition of Chikan artisans. The study established that over 40,000 Chikan artisans working in and around Lucknow were highly exploited in the industry even as middlemen made hay. As a result, Chikan artisans lived in shanty localities and suffered from poverty; they and their offspring were illiterate; and their families had poor health.
Children were the worst sufferers as poverty paved its way for them to go through pains of malnutrition, unhygienic living conditions and illiteracy. For family’s survival, extra earning became a need and the children became a victim of circumstances as they were dragged to work.
Since 1979 there were constant interactions with the community for understanding the need of becoming self-reliant as well as a support for the earning members in the family. Regular value for work earning which will enable them to contribute respectable amount in the family.
In 1984, thirty-one women came together to register an organization of women artisans under the 1860 Society’s Registration Act for “CHIKAN KARI”. “Self Employed Women’s Association” (SEWA – Lucknow) was thus formed with a major agenda of doing away with the middleman and the organization to act as a platform from where the artisans would address the market directly.