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Documentary work done on a sabbatical looking at women helping women. I worked with Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and Guild of Service.

 

SEWA, the Self Employed Women's Association is a large trade union association of women from a large variety of self run businesses who join together to teach each other to not only do work, but bank, learn profitable trade or skills, and form bargaining groups. Membership is mostly made of poor, self-employed women workers who have fallen outside the protection of other labor forces in the country. My work was centered in the region around Ahmedabad in mostly rural areas.

 

After involvement with those two groups, we traveled elsewhere in India and I continued to photograph women and their circumstances.

 

On the way to Vrindavan, all of my camera equipment was stolen on a night train. I quickly found a used point and shoot to complete my work for the next couple weeks.

 

I met Dr. Mohini Giri from Guild of Service at Ma Dham, a widows home in Vrindavan. Ma Dham is a labor of love for Dr. Giri who is also a widow, but has spent most of her adult life working to help women from the War Widows Association which she founded in 1972 after the Indo-Pakistani War and as chairperson of National Commission for Women. She has worked as a board member for the international charity, The Hunger Project.

 

At Ma Dham, the widows live a dignified life for free and can learn various trade, crafts, gardening, computer and medical skills. The campus is large just outside the town where women are safe. Vrindavan is known as the widows city, where many widow live in shelter/temples where the head of the temple uses them to enrich himself. There are a myriad of difficult issues that face widows in India including loss of property and home, no pensions, poverty, and status. Women in general have a lesser place in society and work in India.

 

 

CHANGING INDIA

one woman at a time

 

barbara@barbarahoughtonphoto.com                                               all contents © barbara houghton 2019