(Patron, National Women’s Parliament)
Founder, Self -Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), Noted Gandhian, Activist Cooperative Organizer
- Ela Ramesh Bhatt, born on 7th September 1933, is an Indian cooperative organiser, activist and Gandhian.
- Following graduation, Ela entered the Sir L. A. Shah Law College in Ahmedabad. In 1954 she received her degree in law and a Gold Medal for her work on Hindu law.
- Bhatt started her career teaching English for a short time at SNDT Women’s University, in Mumbai. But in 1955 she joined the legal department of the Textile Labour Association in Ahmedabad.
- In 1972 she founded the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union for women workers in India’s huge informal sector. The following year, Ela Bhatt founded the Cooperative Bank of SEWA. The bank helps women to gain financial independence
- Member of the Indian Parliament 1986-89
- Ela Bhatt has been a founder member of “The Elders” since 2007. She joined her fellow Elders to encourage peaceful Palestinian protest during The Elders’ two delegations to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Ela Bhatt welcomed the Elders to India in the state of Bihar for campaigning to end child marriage in their own communities.
- Among the organisations Ela Bhatt has created and inspired, founded and chairs:
- Sa-Dhan (the All India Association of Micro Finance Institutions in India)
- The Indian School of Micro-finance for Women,Women’s World Banking
- The International Alliance of Home-based Workers (HomeNet)
- Ela Bhatt was awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, the first-ever Global Fairness Initiative Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Right Livelihood Award, the George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award and the Légion d’honneur from France, the Padma Bhushan (1986). She has also received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale and the University of Natal.