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Labour Education and Research Network (LEARN) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to mobilising women informal workers in the urban slums of Maharashtra

Who We Are

LEARN was founded in 2000 by late Prof. Sharit Bhowmik, along with university teachers and grassroots activists to strengthen collectives of urban informal workers, especially women workers.

LEARN believes in holistically empowering poor women to work and live in conditions of dignity and freedom. We support women to improve their lives to pursue better futures for themselves and their families. A strong research-based approach guides our work at the grassroots. Since 2000, our grassroots ‘women champions’ have created sustainable collectives in Mumbai, Nashik, Solapur and Nagpur. Our current membership of ~7000 women includes domestic workers, home-based workers, ragpickers, housekeeping workers, street vendors, garment embellishers, jewellery makers, food processing workers, garment and textile workers, and micro-factory workers. These informal women workers make a sizeable contribution to India’s economy, but they remain invisible and unrecognised. LEARN provides women a safe and secular rights-based interaction platform, assists them to access government benefits, provides support to women in distress, upgrade their skills and build their capacities to lead their communities and collectively address their struggles. We emphasise the recognition of their work and their contributions to India’s economy, its culture, and the social fabric.

Vision

We believe in a just and fair world where men and women can work and live in conditions of freedom, and children grow in an enabling environment of growth to realise their full potential as human beings.

Mission

To holistically empower women in informal employment to work and live in conditions of freedom, by building their collective strength through education, awareness, research and grassroots activism.

Objectives

  • Foregrounding women’s identity as workers and active contributors to the economy
  • Building sustainable, inclusive and democratic collectives of women informal workers in urban slums
  • Conducting trainings and workshops for raising awareness, sensitisation, upskilling, enhancing employability and overall personal development of urban poor women in slums
  • Providing holistic support to working mothers among the working poor
  • Conducting research on the informal economy to provide evidence-based interventions in slum communities and to inform policy on labour, gender and urban development
  • Designing training materials, methods and formats that are user-friendly for non-literate audience in the informal economy
  • Sensitising and educating society and public about informal economy and the plight of informal workers
  • Activating the agency of slum-children as ‘changemakers’ within their communities to create social awareness through theatre and performing arts

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