Meeting the S.E.W.A. movement

Dv, 60min., stereo

During a traveling journey in India I stepped into the stories of the S.E.W.A. associates. The biggest union for informal women workers in India, such as, bidi makers, carpenters, paper pickers, vegetables street seller, head loaders. The informal economy, in which women are the majority, totals the 93% of the national indian economy.

Women join S.E.W.A.'s union and grassroot movement to get basic education, to receive training on their rights, and be able to built, often from scratch, their own profession. Full time programs are offered to mprove their skills as well as their lives and their role in society through individual and group self reliance. Nonethless to develop skills to become policy makers at local and national levels.

Through the women protagonists we witness the importance of cooperative and self organized labor in times of global financial crisis in which this concept and practice seems vanishing or disappearing at once.

Through the words of the protagonists of different ages, most of whom formerly illiterate, we follow the parabolic personal struggles to manage one’s own quality of  life in trades and matters such as artisanal and industrial fashion, banking, child care, education, video production, insurance, community outreach.

The documentary narrative style developed from the personal encounters I had with the women portrayed. The misunderstandings, language barriers and viceversa exotisms happening during the shooting, between me the western filmmaker and the indian women interviewed, were kept as part of the documentary as much as the main S.E.W.A. subject.

The visual style of the work draws for inspiration from the Bollywood imagery and the iconic hindu pantheon. Since, for what they live through in pratical every day life and narrate herein, the women protagonists do have an epic aura as real contemporary heroines.

Pratbha Pandya, Jyotsana Sagara, S.E.W.A. Associates
produced by
Carola Spadoni

credits and further infos upon request