Renana Jhabvala

Padma Shri and Chancellor, Gandhigram Rural University (2012-17)

Renana Jhabvala is best known for her 35-year long association with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and for her writings on women in the informal economy. Jhabvala is currently Chair of SEWA Bharat and SEWA Bank, and the Executive Trustee of SEWA Mahila Housing Trust. She has been a member of the IIHS Board since 2010. Active in education and women’s empowerment, Jhabvala has served a five-year term as the Chancellor of Gandhigram Rural University, Tamil Nadu (2012–17). In 1990, she was awarded a Padma Shri by the Government of India for her contributions in the field of social work.


She has made a significant mark internationally as a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. In 2016, she was honoured with the FICCI Lifetime Achievement Award for her national and international contributions to social work. Jhabvala is a founder member and Chair of WIEGO. Over the years, she has been a member of many Government of India and State Government Committees and Task Forces responsible for policy formulation. She has been a member of various Committees of the erstwhile Planning Commission. Renana Jhabvala is a graduate in mathematics from Delhi University and Harvard University. She also has an MA in Economics from Yale University.