Ela R. Bhatt

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Biographical Information

"Ela R. Bhatt is widely recognised as one of the world’s most remarkable pioneers and entrepreneurial forces in grassroots development. Known as the “gentle revolutionary” she has dedicated her life to improving the lives of India’s poorest and most oppressed women workers, with Gandhian thinking as her source of guidance.

"In 1972, Ela Bhatt founded the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) – a trade union which now has more than 1,000,000 members. Founder Chair of the Cooperative Bank of SEWA, she is also founder and chair of Sa-Dhan (the All India Association of Micro Finance Institutions in India) and founder-chair of the Indian School of Micro-finance for Women.

"Ela Bhatt was a Member of the Indian Parliament from 1986 to 1989, and subsequently a Member of the Indian Planning Commission. She founded and served as chair for Women's World Banking, the International Alliance of Home-based Workers (HomeNet), and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing, Organizing (WIEGO). She also served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation for a decade.

"She has received several awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Right Livelihood Award, the George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award, and the Légion d’honneur from France. She has also received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, the University of Natal and other academic institutions." [1]


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Ela R. Bhatt, The Elders, accessed February 10, 2011.
  2. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era History, organizational web page, accessed April 18, 2012.
  3. Executive Board, Centre for Science and Environment, accessed January 11, 2012.
  4. World Peace Festival Advisory Board, organizational web page, accessed March 21, 2013.