Ela Bhatt, renowned women rights activist and founder of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), died Wednesday due to age-related ailments, her associates said. She was 89.
“It is with profound grief that we announce the passing away of our beloved and respected founder, Smt. Elaben Bhatt, a pioneer in advocating for women workers’ rights, we strive to carry her legacy forward,” SEWA Bharat tweeted.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled her death.
“Sad to know about the death of Elaben Bhatt. She will be remembered long for her work for the promotion of women empowerment, social service and education among the youth. Condolences to her family members and admirers,” Modi tweeted in Gujarati.
“One of my personal heroes is Ela Bhatt, who has provided microloans to women in India for 46 years. Her work embodies the principle that every person should have the chance to achieve his or her dreams and make the most of their God-given potential,” former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted.
Ramesh, Amimayi and Mihir Bhatt: Ela Bhatt’s husband and children
Ela Bhatt married Ramesh Bhatt in 1956. The couple had two children, Amimayi and Mihir. She lived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat with her family.
Bhatt’s mother, Vanalila Vyas, was prominent in the women’s movement and served as secretary of the All India Women’s Conference. Her father, Sumantrai Bhatt, was a lawyer.
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She attended the Sarvajanik Girls High School from 1940 to 1948. The 89-year-old was the second of three daughters
Ela Bhatt received the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in 1985 and 1986 respectively. She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1984 as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1977.