Mirai Chatterjee, Chairperson, Gujarat Womens’ SEWA Cooperative Federation

“You have to keep keeping on. Life is full of successes and failures and mistakes, and you get up and dust yourself and keep moving. It is like life itself. Twists and turns, ups and downs, and what is success? I don’t know.”

“You have to keep keeping on. Life is full of successes and failures and mistakes, and you get up and dust yourself and keep moving. It is like life itself. Twists and turns, ups and downs, and what is success? I don’t know.” In this episode, Ashutosh Garg engages in a thought-provoking conversation with Mirai Chatterjee, Chairperson of Gujarat Women’s SEWA Co-operative Federation, about the lives of the poor informal women workers in India and around the globe. Mirai is an alumnus of Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. Mirai, a senior individual from the social sector, talks about the three key milestones in her life. The Chairperson of SEWA (Self Empowered Women’s Association) explains how the organization works tirelessly to actualize the goal of full employment and self-reliance of the underprivileged women working in the informal sector. Mirai opines about the harsh reality of women being forced to bid adieu to their professional life after marriage. She draws a comparison between the way of life of women in rural India versus other parts of the world. In the section that follows, Mirai talks about her responsibilities as the Chairperson of ‘Women in Informal Employment Organizing and Globalizing,’ a network of policy makers, researchers, and practitioners. Before concluding, she defines success in her terms and shared with us the biggest learnings from her biggest mistakes.

Mirai Chatterjee, Chairperson, Gujarat Womens’ SEWA Cooperative Federation


Work Experience:


2015–present              Chairperson, Gujarat Womens’ SEWA Cooperative  Federation   
2009 – 2019 Chairperson, National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative Ltd, with 100,000 insured women and their family members in five states of India.
1999 – present Director, SEWA Social Security Team, involved in organizing and managing health care, child care and insurance services for women of the informal economy, all members of the Self Employed Women’s Association, SEWA. 
1999 – present Board Member, Lok Swasthya Sewa Health Worker’s Cooperative
1999 – 2010 Chairperson, Lok Swasthya Health Workers’ cooperative, promoted by SEWA. The cooperative is a state-wide organization of grassroot-level health workers.
1996 – 1999    General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association, SEWA, Responsible for managing India’s largest union of women workers   of the informal economy.
1984 – 1996 Coordinator, Sewa Health Team, involved in organizing health services for and with informal women workers.

Other Experience:


2020—present        Chairperson, Women in Informal Employment Globalising and            Organising (WIEGO), a global network of grassroot practitioners, policy-makers and researchers
2020—present             Board Member, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship     
2014 – present Vice-Chairperson, PRADAN, an NGO working on rural livelihoods
2013 – present Board Member, Save the Children (India)
2010 – 2014 Member, National Advisory Council (NAC), appointed by the Prime Minister of India
2010—2011                Member, High Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage, Planning Commission of India
2009 – present Board Member, Indian Institute of Public Health (Gujarat)
2006 – present Trustee, National Academy of Self-Employed Women
2006 – present Trustee, Strishakti Trust, SEWA Bank
2006 – present Board Member, Video SEWA Communication Cooperative
2005 – present Board Member, Public Health Foundation of India
2005—2008     Commissioner, WHO’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health
1999 – 2014 Board Member, Friends of Women’s World Banking   FWWB, Ahmedabad; an organisation committed to providing microfinance to grass root women’s organisations. Chairperson (2013 – 2014)
1998 – present Trustee, Mahila Sewa Trust, an organisation committed to the welfare of women workers and a part of the SEWA movement. 
2005 – 2008 Board Member, Public Affairs Centre
1997 – 2000 Trustee, National Foundation for India, an organisation committed to strengthening voluntary action for development.
1988 – 1990 Board Member, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) a national coalition of community health organizations. 
1988 – 1989 President, Gujarat Voluntary Health Association (GVHA), regional coalition of health groups working involved in primary health care.


Academic Honours: 


1983 – 1985 Aga Khan Foundation Scholarship for 1983 – 85 for graduate degree in public health, Johns Hopkins University, USA.
1978 – 1982 Harvard University Scholarship   
1976 – 1978 Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Scholarship to attend the United World College of the Atlantic, Wales

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