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Made in India

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Patricia Plattner CH 1999 91'

The Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) is a unique sort of trade union, first created in the state of Gujarat. In 1998, it has 217'000 members throughout the sub-continent. SEWA has set out to organize India's countless extremely poor women, whether they work at home, in the street or in the fields, doing a variety of jobs but having no permanent employer so that they may be considered self employed. Issued from many different religious and caste backgrounds, the SEWA women have created their own cooperative bank. SEWA is also concerned about such issues as health and training. Inventive and courageous, these women have stepped out from the shadow.

The film tells the story of SEWA with the voices of six of its members.

"In order to illustrate what a daunting job it is, Patricia Plattner accompanies Martha, Ranbai, Geeta, Badrunnisha, Shakri and above all Rami on their daily rounds: with the support of the association, each plays her role in educating embroiderers, collecting and selling natural rubber, and carrying out the programmes of cleaning up urban areas and reforesting rural areas. It is seen how mentalities and activities are thus slowly but surely reformed. Others featured in the film are Ela R. Bhatt, the association’s founder, and Mirai Chattarjee, Reema Nanavaly and others in charge of running and developing the association’s bank, university, insurance and so on, structures which play a vital part in its activity. The film also deals with the questions – or criticisms – aimed at the enterprise concerning the inclusion of women belonging to the upper classes, the admission of men, and so on. Patricia Plattner remains in the background and allows her superb images to tell the story of an unfolding new world."
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