Women’s Empowerment in India
Gender inequality is one of the biggest problems that continues to haunt, hinder and disable modern society across all parts of India today. Although gender inequality is a key issue in a number of countries, it is especially prominent in India where women have a disadvantage in many areas of life from education and employment to healthcare and social status. It is quite common in poor and disadvantaged communities to be forced into early marriages, and domestic abuse and violence are accepted due to lack of support available.
Our women’s empowerment volunteer program is focused on skill building, women’s education and confidence building. Through the skills they learn, women will develop confidence, a new identity, ability to get jobs or earn higher income, and secure a better future for themselves. Many of the women who attend our program are housewives who did not get a chance to complete their education due to early marriage and conservative families. Some have been drop outs after primary education and are hugely dependant on their families. Most of the women want to learn English to be able to get jobs or just connect with those outside their community or even be able to teach their children English.
Moreover through this women’s program we want to give volunteers the opportunity to deepen connections with local communities and also to enrich the community through the exchange of cultures. In turn we also hope that volunteers also learn about the world and understand some of the gender issues in India and how different life is for a women living in India.
Our women’s empowerment program in India gives you the option to choose from two fantastic locations in India – Kerala (South India) or Kolkata (East India). In Kolkata you will you will be volunteering in community centres to help teach women from slum areas essential skills such as English and to help with building skills and knowledge in the areas of health and well-being, computer operations and word-processing, and entrepreneurship. A lot of the women who come to our programs are rag pickers or housewives from disadvantaged families and this is great way for them to not only pick up new skills for independence, but to have an open sounding board and support group to talk about their personal experiences of daily struggles they go through as women living in India (i.e. early marriage, forced marriages, abuse or low paid jobs).
In Kerala our program is more geared towards ‘English Teaching’. The women who attend our classes are local housewives who are excited to learn from our volunteers. By learning ‘proper’ English they can engage in helping their children with school homework, communicate better with those outside their community and to secure better paid jobs. We expect all our volunteers to be proactive in creating teaching resources in consultation with our local team. Although this is an education program for women we don’t impose a strong structure/curriculum to your daily work and encourage flexibility in topics being taught. As volunteers, it is important to understand that it takes resources and time to build programs and we welcome anyone with a teaching background, those who can assist in creating curriculums, life skills courses or who can help to create income generation projects for our ladies groups.
All The Details
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All our rates are in USD $ per person
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- Pre-departure guide – to prepare you for your trip
- Pick-up and drop from the nearest airport or train station
- Shared Rooms
- Experienced bilingual local staff
- Breakfast and Lunch/dinner- home cooked Indian food
- Location /culture orientation
- Project introduction – most of your training is on the role itself.
- 24 hour support
- Project travel costs
- Guaranteed project placement
Whats Not Included in your program fee :
- Flights to the program destination
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal shopping and gratuities
- Local excursions
- Project materials that you personally need
Geetha Raj: Kerala Program Manager
Geetha is the backbone of our programs in Kerala. Her friendliness, generosity and warmth towards every volunteer will leave you feeling extra special. Having worked as local journalist for almost 10 years, Geetha grew a passion for community development work and is very forward thinking. She is instrumental for our Kerala program development. A born leader, Geetha will give you the direction you will need to succeed as a volunteer. Her team will look after all your needs from the time you enter Kerala to the time you leave. In her spare time Geetha loves taking our volunteers to the temples to get a taste of Keralan culture.
Shalini Deo: Kolkata Program Manager
Shalini has spent a decade as a corporate trainer for language and behavioural skills for IT, banking to hospitality sectors. She is founder of New Agragati, a self help group which empowers 140 women by skill training and employment. Her passion to contribute to society introduced Shalini to us. She conducts cultural orientation and immersion programs, language courses and helps volunteers adjust better in India and particularly Kolkata. Shalini is basically super awesome to have around. When you join us in Kerala Shalini will be your main contact point and will give you guidance and support you need as a volunteer.
- For Kerala the nearest airport for this program is Cochin International Airport (COK)
- For Kolkata the nearest airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU)
- We recommend you apply for Tourist Visas before you arrive.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program.
- We recommend you visit your local travel clinic to find out what vaccines you should take.
In Kerala: Your First Week looks a bit like this…
(The below is subject to change!!)
Arrival Weekend: Once you get picked up from the airport you will be taken to our volunteers house where you will meet our local team. You will be given a welcome and culture orientation, area tour and project related training to prepare you for the program.
Monday: After breakfast you will be taken to the project sites to get introduced to your group of women who you will be helping. After lunch you will sit with your local team and go over your volunteer work plans for the coming week. Evenings can be used for lesson planning or cultural activities in the area.
Tuesday to Thursday: After breakfast you will be going to the project sites and taking your first sessions with the support of our local team or other volunteers who may be present. Lunch will be at home. Post lunch you will continue with some more volunteering and finish by 16:00 PM. Evenings will be free for your relaxation!
Friday: On Friday you have your usual morning volunteering session between 10:00 to 12:00 PM. Post lunch you can choose to sit with your program manager to go over your week, and to plan out the following weeks volunteering activities. Evenings are free for you to explore the area.
What Happens When I Arrive?
Living Arrangements in Kerala:
When you join Kerala you will be in our volunteer villa sharing your room with other volunteers so you’ll have likeminded people to share your experiences with. Each room will have its own fan and en-suite for your personal comfort, although if you want air conditioning and private rooms, you can upgrade by contacting our team in advance. Whatever your accommodation preferences, we will try our best to meet your needs.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also included in your volunteer package and will usually be locally prepared food and classic dishes to give you a real taste of life in India. Western meals can be found at local cafes and restaurants if you prefer but we definitely recommend joining us in tasting the local cuisine for a fully immersive travel, living and dining experience. Daily project travel by tuk tuk will be pre-arranged for your convenience and airport transfers are also covered.
Please note that during busy months when our volunteer house is full we will arrange alternative housing near our volunteer villa.
Weekends in Kerala:
If you’re volunteering in Kerala, you’ll love exploring the famous backwaters on your weekend. You can stay in a traditional houseboat and immerse yourself in local life on the backwaters. Besides this you will also find the Munnar Tea Plantations, Varkala Beach and Marari Beach great to travel to with the children. Our local team can help book your excursions to these places.
Volunteers Love Us!
‘My experience in India was absolutely fantastic. Having never done anything like this before, Volunteering Journeys made sure I settled in well and supported me throughout my time. Being placed with an amazing family gave me the chance to experience Indian culture first hand. I was part of the Disabled Childcare Programs for two weeks. Although short, I felt the time I spent was so valuable for the children. If this is something that you are interested in I would 100% recommend it. The memories, friendships and experiences you will develop will be ones that you will never forget.’
‘The teaching experience was second to none. I was overwhelmed by the respect and politeness all the children have, which made it some much easier to work with them, even with the language barrier. The amazing thing about the schools I visited was that all the children are like little sponges, they absorb everything you say, teach and do! It’s quite outstanding how much they gain from just a small conversation in the playground or in the class room.
So in general if you are questioning whether you want to volunteer and you don’t know what company to go with, it has the be Volunteering Journeys. You will be well looked after, gain an immense experience and make friends for life!!!’
‘I took a short sabbatical from work in November 2013 and decided to come to India. I was helping at a small school in Fort Kochi, teaching English, Maths, Science and the odd nursery rhyme. The school where I volunteered had amazing teachers and the kids were great. Ridhi and the team organised everything brilliantly – from cycling tours to the backwaters, to hosting me with a family that made my stay feel like home. If you’re going to volunteer in India then I highly recommend Volunteering Journeys’
“J’ai passé deux mois formidables à Kochi en travaillant comme volontaire avec Volunteering Journeys. Deux mois de ma vie que je n’oublierais jamais. J’ai rencontré des gens incroyables et participé à des projets qui me tenaient vraiment à coeur. J’ai pu voir l’aboutissement de mes efforts et le sourire sur le visage des enfants. Une expérience magique que je recommande à tous. Merci Rainbow”
‘I spent 3 wonderful weeks with the Volunteering Journeys team in Kerala, it marked the beginning of almost 2 months adventuring through India, and I can say without a doubt it was one of my favourite experiences of my time spent in incredible India! From the moment my plane landed and I was greeted by a friendly face and whisked away to a wonderful home, the local staff were incredibly welcoming, helpful, supportive and great fun to be around!
I spent my time volunteering in 2 local schools, assisting with English studies. The enthusiasm and joy with which the children approach their days will ensure you never want to leave!I cannot recommend Volunteering Journeys highly enough, it was such a joyful introduction to India – it’s culture, people and crazy beautiful way of life. You will leave with some fond memories and firm friendships’
‘I volunteered by teaching English both at a school and at an all girls’ orphanage for two months. It has been the best experience of my life so far. I really got to know the children I was teaching and seeing the children’s English improve over my time was an incredible feeling. From being introduced to yoga to tasting delicious flavoursome Indian cuisine and living in “God’s own country”, has left me eager to return. I have made friends across the World who made my time spent in Kerala unforgettable. I highly recommend volunteering with Volunteering Journeys; Kerala is beautiful and you will gain fun memories.’
‘I spent two weeks running an art workshop which was absolutely fantastic. The children were so enthusiastic and bustled about with paste and paint, putting together the most amazing creations. They were not used to producing collaborative work and were thrilled when their individual efforts achieved a glorious whole. Their personalities really shone through and I became very fond of them in the short time I was with them. Thank you to Volunteering Journeys for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience!’
‘There is some kind of magic that happens when you’re in India. The climate, the people, the warm welcome, the happiness in every person, the culture, it’s simply inspiring. On top of that having a group of friendly, thoughtful organizers guiding me through the program made my time volunteering with Volunteering Journeys one of the most memorable moments in my life.
If anyone reading this is considering becoming a volunteer, don’t hesitate, become a volunteer. It will be the most rewarding experience and adventure of your life. I assure you that you will have a vital impact on the community, the place and the children. I would recommend Volunteering Journeys without hesitation. Well organized and hassle free adventure. You get help and guidance with everything you need. Kerala was my destination. Safe, beautiful and very friendly. Just do it and have an adventure of your life!’
“Volunteering at the schools was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Once again the friendships you create are irreplaceable. Admittedly, the first few days were scary, in the sense that my partner and I were only 18 & 20 yrs old and we were teaching women and children a language that was not their first. However the persistence and willingness of Indians is not to be tested. Each of our students put in 100% and naturally we became very personal with everyone and these women and children taught us much more. We came out of this experience with more than we had ever anticipated. It can’t be put into words just how much we learnt from volunteering. Ever aspect of our lives and mindset has changed.”
‘I think it was quite an eye opening experience to kind of see how people live and enjoy their lives very differently to what we do probably in UK. Even though comparatively they didn’t have as much, the children still came to school with a smile on their face and they were really keen to learn. They were ever so happy and always had a smile on their face regardless of the circumstances that they are living in, and I think that was an amazing experience for us to take back. We have comparatively much more wealth in the UK and we have much more available at our fingertips. Yet we were quite not so happy’
‘We decided to volunteer as part of our family vacation. It was the perfect balance: making a contribution but not being asked to do too much, with Volunteering Journeys staff with us every step of the way to help, support, clarify, etc. I was also impressed that they didn’t feed us a line about how we were changing the world in a week; I knew going in that *we* would be the ones most changed, and the staff’s perspective’s was the same: we were making an impact by showing we cared and sharing experiences, which hopefully meant something to a lot of people.’