Mahila Shram SEWA Nyas , Indore (MSSN)
Mahila Shram Seva Nyas (MSSN) is a trust established in 1991 that is dedicated to improving the circumstances of women workers in the informal sector. MSSN has been a partner of Hivos since 1999. MSSN was inspired by the Self Employed Women's Association - Ahmedabad (SEWA) and shares SEWA's objectives, philosophy and approach. Like the original SEWA, MSSN carries out four types of activities: union work, establishing workers' co-operatives, support services for women in the informal sector, and policy advocacy. MSSN's goal is to attain full employment and self-reliance for its members. The SEWA definition of full employment and self-reliance is comprehensive, including adequate income, nutrition, child care, health care, asset base, living conditions, organisational strength and development of leadership qualities
Swashriyee Mahila Sewa Sangh (Sewa MP), the union associated with MSSN, has a membership of 3,84,424 women. These include Forest Workers, Home based workers (beedi workers, incense stick rollers, garment worker etc.), Hawkers and Street Vendors, Wage workers (Construction, agriculture etc.) and Self-employed workers. MSSN plays a support role to the union. Its activities include training, research, campaigning and publishing. Through these inputs, unity among women workers has increased. Caste and religious divisions have been eroded. Women have become independent and have learned to value their labour. Their unity has provided them with self-confidence and self-respect.
The union has played a key role in getting women working in the informal sector formally recognized as workers, and has negotiated wage increases for bidi and agarbatti workers and tendu leaf gatherers, besides helping workers access welfare schemes run by the government. An evaluation supported by HIVOS concluded that taken in aggregate, the benefits accruing to members through increased wages far outweighs financial support extended to MSSN and SEWA-MP from all sources.
MSSN has a five-member board. Its Managing Trustee is a woman. MSSN has 75 staff members, of whom five are men. Women occupy all key positions in the organisation
MSSN's strategy of economic empowerment of women by organizing self-employed women into unions and production collectives, providing leadership training, and support services is in agreement with Hivos' basic policy, and with its policy priority area of gender, women, and development.