Jaitly, Jaya has worked for over four decades with craftspeople. Her interests are wide ranging and she has been the Assistant General Secretary of the Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat, a major trade union. She joined active politics and the Janata Party in 1984. She has been the Secretary of the Janata Dal, General Secretary (1994) and President (2001) of the Samata Party. She moved away from party-bound politics in 2003.
She is the founder and Chairperson of Dastkari Haat Samiti, an organization for crafts people and among her many activities she conceptualized the concept of Dilli Haat, a unique craft space in New Delhi. She regularly organizes workshops to upgrade craft skills and products; is a prolific writer and has several publications including five books on handicrafts to her credit.