Economic empowerment for women in sex work through Microfinance

Written By Sushma Singh

Swathi Jyothi is a microfinance institution that supports the economic empowerment of women in sex work in Bangalore, India. It has been established by Swathi Mahila Sangha, a collective of women in sex work, with the support of Vrutti, a Livelihoods Resource Centre.

These women live in difficult circumstances — most of them in sex work out of desperation, not a choice. Many of them have no secure housing – some of them live on the streets or in brothels. Many are not able to give their children a decent education. They earn money but have no formal system through which they can accumulate savings or borrow credit. They are not easily able to access mainstream financial services ‐ mainly due to the stigma attached to their occupation and lack of relevant documentation.

Economic empowerment for women in sex work through Microfinance

Swathi Jyothi helps build the financial literacy of the women and offers them, women, a range of financial services — savings bank accounts, recurring deposit accounts and short term loans. It also helps them access long-term loans and insurance through mainstream banks.

Currently, Swathi Jyothi has reached 4,200 women in sex work — helping them save and send their children to a better school, find more secure housing and in some cases even start their own business and come out of sex work.

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