COVID19 Relief Work


In Punjab, the COVID 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown resulted in a majority of informal sector women losing their jobs. Given this, the women members that SEWA Punjab engages with were heavily impacted, more so as a large number of them are the sole breadwinners of their family.

As soon as the lockdown was announced, SEWA Punjabimmediately began monitoring the impact on its members, connecting with them throughAagewanleaders and over phone calls to hear their day-today challenges and the areas where they were struggling the most. The Aagewans and their field volunteers were guided to conduct need assessment in their communities based on which SEWA Punjab began its relief and support work, as follows-

  • Ration Distribution– this was carried out for poor families in immediate need of food aid across six districts of SEWA Punjab between April to June 2020. Field volunteers and Aagewans helped distribute 2000 essential food kits, and in liaison with the state government PDS we also reached out to 14,000 households.
  • Livelihood Generation–In the backdrop ofwomen workers losing all their livelihood, and with that their means of income during the lockdown, especially artisans and home-based workers,SEWA Punjab identifiedwomen with prior stitching experience, brought them together to stitch masks. Women were trained through video calls and phone briefings, including instructions on safety measures and design standards. Around 150 SEWA Punjab members stitched more than 12,000 masks that were well received by all. Key support came in through orders from Anaj Mandis across Punjab.
    Masks were also distributed for free in each district to frontline workers like police personnel and health workers.
  • Banking Services and Social Security Schemes and Benefits – awareness andinformation on schemes and benefits released during the lockdown was facilitated by SEWA Shakti Kendra coordinators to more than 40,000 people. Door to door survey of the members was conducted to assess their eligibility for the schemes and they were helped in processing them. Each SEWA Bank Saathi reached out to nearly 500 families, through door-step delivery of financial services, especially helping elderly and disabled people.
  • Health Awareness and Access to Essentials – Gaps in information and resources for basic health and hygiene during the lockdown posed acute health risks for our community members. In order to bridge this gap, SEWA Punjab worked to ensure health awareness and access to women in rural, remote areas which included the following-

    • Health and hygiene sessions were conducted with over 36,000 women in the wake of COVID 19, including mental, sexual and reproductive health, and domestic violence awareness.
    • A total of 102 health kits was distributed to the community leaders and active members containing sanitizers, masks, gloves and soaps to ensure their safety while carrying out their community mobilization efforts in the field.
    • Community leaders and active members distributed more than 1,800 packets of sanitary pads and facilitated linkages for pregnant women like pregnancy cards while also providing them with essential vitamins.
  • Advocacy Work-SEWA Bharat has been advocating for the rights and protection of women domestic workers in India. As part of the International Domestic Workers Dayobservance on June 16th, 2020, SEWA Punjab domestic worker membersparticipated in an awareness drive across the Tricity and Punjab to promote their rights to livelihood, income, and dignity of work. Peaceful demonstrations took place in 5 districts. More than five hundred domestic workers gave their signatures to be forwarded to the center as part of the nationwide campaign. SEWA Punjab also ran a press release to appeal to employers to pay their domestic workers for the lockdown period and issued news articles in the media to increase awareness on their plight during this time.