The Power of One

Hum Sab Ek Hai is a research and advocacy project highlighting the voices and experiences of women in India’s informal sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hum Sab Ek Hai (We Are One) is the rallying cry of the Self Employed Women’s Association in India. SEWA comprises many unions and cooperatives organized around a variety of trades, across India.

The Power of One

Hum Sab Ek Hai is a research and advocacy project highlighting the voices and experiences of women in India’s informal sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hum Sab Ek Hai (We Are One) is the rallying cry of the Self Employed Women’s Association in India. SEWA comprises many unions and cooperatives organized around a variety of trades, across India.

Through immersive exhibitions, a digital archive of interviews with members of the Self Employed Women’s Association , and a study of over  1,001 Households, this project captures the resilience of poor working women in India, who leveraged the power of collective action to negotiate the challenges posed by the societal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

A Research Collaboration With

Every human on the planet faced their own unique set of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, not all challenges were experienced equally.

The fear of disease and death in the early months of the pandemic gave way to the fatigue of isolation and the desperation for renewed human contact. Some scholars have argues that the pandemic had subverted global health wherein the lives and livelihoods of a vast majority of the world’s population has been imperiled by the decision to physically and socially isolate.

This was especially troubling for women working in India’s informal sector, 2.6 million of which are part of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union of poor self-employed women established in 1972 in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujara. Physical solidarity has been the hallmark of SEWA’s movement, and those involved in it found it perplexing and disconcerting to not be immediately at the doorstep or bedside of a sister in need.

Archive

Showcasing personal narratives of working women in India, who recount their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Archive coming soon.

Exhibitions

Amplifying the voices and experiences of poor working women through immersive audio-visual displays. 

Photo by Ninara.
1,001 Households

An in-depth study of the impact of the pandemic on health, livelihoods, education and food security among 1001 households across urban and rural Gujarat.

Photo by Rossana Ramani
Open Call for Artists

Inviting artists to respond to our archived material and contribute to the exhibitions.

“A woman is a worker, a provider, a caretaker, an educator, and a networker. She is a forger of bonds — she is a creator and a preserver.”

– Elaben Bhatt

Founder, Self Employed Women’s Association


This project is made possible by the generous support of

Faculty & Student Grants From:
  • The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University
  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Rose Service Learning Fellowship