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Padma Bhushan awardee Ela Bhatt dies at 89; PM Modi tweets

New Delhi: Renowned lawyer and Gandhian activist, Ela Bhatt, who also founded the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), passed away in Ahmedabad on Wednesday due to age-related ailments. She was 89.

According to an Indian Express report, SEWA is one of the biggest women’s cooperatives and national trade unions registered in 1972 which was born out of a textile trade union.

It has a membership base of over 2.1 million poor, self-employed women workers from informal sectors across 18 states and units abroad.

Bhatt received numerous honors for her efforts to improve the lives of poor women in Gujarat, including the Padma Shri (1985), the Padma Bhushan (1977), and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1986).

Will be remembered for promoting women empowerment: PM Modi

“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.

“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.

Tweeting his condolence, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that Bhatt has left behind an inspiring legacy.

“Extremely saddened by the passing away of renowned Gandhian & founder of SEWA, Ela Bhatt ji. A Padma Bhushan recipient and a pioneer of women’s rights, she devoted her life in empowering them through grassroots entrepreneurship. Her exceptional legacy shall always inspire,” Kharge said.

Saddened by the demise of noted activist and Padma Bhushan awardee, Smt. Ela Bhatt, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said.

She devoted her life to Gandhian ideals and transformed the lives of millions of women, by empowering them. My heartfelt condolences to her near & dear ones, and her many admirers, he added.

The social activist has also served as a Rajya Sabha MP and an adviser to the World Bank. In 2007, she had joined the Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela to promote human rights and peace.

Bhatt is survived by her son Mihir, daughter Amimayi, daughter-in-law Reema Nanavaty, and grandchildren.

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