The City-Makers by Renana Jhabvala and Bijal Brahmbhatt

The city makers book cover

The City-Makers by Renana Jhabvala and Bijal Brahmbhatt is the incredible and inspiring story of the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) that has mobilized and empowered urban poor women. Published by Hachette India, the book hit the shelves on 25 September 2020.

You can read more about the book here:

Living on the neglected margins of the nation’s urban sprawls, the poor women of India’s slums bear the manifold burden of housework, childcare, and livelihood. They struggle to make their voices heard by city administrations, and for planners and municipalities, to acknowledge that the poor are just as entitled as any other citizen of India to a roof over their head, running water, a toilet at home, and clean and healthy surroundings.

The Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) was established in 1994 with the aim of mobilizing and empowering urban poor women and supporting their access to adequate housing. In a journey spanning 25 years, MHT has changed the lives of over 1.7 million individuals, reaching more than 330,000 households and skilling over 17,000 women.

The City-Makers shares with you the story of this incredible journey – a journey of transformation that has the potential to change the cities in which we live. In the accounts of the courageous individuals who took the steps, individually and collectively, to bring about transformation at the personal and community levels, you will read of the struggles, the solidarity, the successes of women workers in the informal economy to own a house; build it with their own hands; bargain with government and private agencies for access to water, sanitation, affordable energy, and land rights; find solutions to make their homes climate-resilient, and participate in city-level planning and decision-making processes.

About the Author

Renana Jhabvala has been active for over four decades in organizing women in the informal economy in India and South Asia into trade unions, cooperatives, and financial institutions, and has advocated extensively, nationally and internationally, on policy issues relating to poor women and the informal economy. She is the Chairperson (since 2001) of SEWA Bharat, a federation of women-led institutions providing economic and social support to women in the informal sector; Chairperson (since 2014) of SEWA Grih Rin Limited, a SEWA housing finance company that provides affordable housing finance to underserved low-income houses; and Chairperson (since 2009) of WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), a global network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. 
Renana has been a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016-17), and Member of the Steering Committee, Working Group on Urban Poverty, Slum and Service Delivery System for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012 -17) under MOHUPA, Government of India. In 1990, recognizing her contributions to the field of social work, the Government of India awarded her a Padma Shri.

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