Women’s Empowerment in India

Women’s Empowerment in India

Quick Overview

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’s especially prominent in India; the 2015 Human Development Report (HDR) listed India 130th out of 155 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) so our women’s empowerment program is more significant than ever.

In the rural and semi-urban communities we work in particular, gender inequality and female oppression mean that women have a disadvantage in every area of life from education and employment to healthcare and social status.  This often leads to the mistreatment of women; it’s disturbingly common in poor and disadvantaged communities and there are issues such as forced early marriages and problems of domestic violence happening every day. Our women’s empowerment volunteer program is designed to address some of these issues head on, with tangible results that will change the lives you touch. Focused on skill building, women’s education and confidence building.

What makes India more complex in its sex divide is that male heirs in India are considered to be more important in Hindu culture, making women second class citizens in some communities. We understand we can not immediately change this dated, destructive and detrimental view within Indian society, but we strongly believe that education and empowerment is the way forward. It’s one of our most important programs and we’re dedicated to changing the lives of women in a hands-on way, with rewarding elements for the volunteers who come and join our ongoing project.

Help others, touch lives and build deep and meaningful connections along the way. This is responsible travel with a difference.

What’s Involved

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.

We encourage only those over 21 years old to apply for this program.

All The Details

Cochin, India

Kolkata, India

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All our rates are in GBP £. You can convert to USD $ or any other currency using the current exchange rates when you make payments.

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What’s Included?

Price Includes

  1. Pre-departure guide  – to prepare you for your trip
  2. Pick-up and drop from the nearest airport or train station
  3. Accommodation with WiFi
  4. Experienced bilingual local staff team to support you on the projects
  5. Breakfast and Lunch/dinner- home cooked Indian food
  6. Location orientation – a tour of the local area
  7. Project training with the local Program Manager – most of your training is on the role itself.
  8. 24 hour support in your location for emergencies
  9. An opportunity to participate on a sustainable on going project that needs you
  10. Auto Rikshaw to the project site – these local three wheelers are the best ride in town!

Whats Not Included in your program fee :

  1. Flights to the program destination
  2. Medical and travel insurance
  3. Visa costs
  4. Vaccinations
  5. Personal shopping and gratuities
  6. Local excursions
  7. Project materials that you personally need *

*We provide basic online resources, and use of our computers for further online research for project ideas. Please bring your own resources from home if needed. Photocopying and printing or buying materials you need for projects is at your own expense.

Local Team

Geetha Raj: Kerala Program Manager

Volunteering Journeys Kerala Team GeethaGeetha 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.

Getting There

  1. For Kerala the nearest airport for this program is Cochin International Airport (COK)
  2. For Kolkata the nearest airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU)
  3. If you wish to book flights to any destination you can contact our dedicated account manager at Flight Center UK or call +44 0808 260 9972
  4. We recommend you apply for Visas before you arrive. Our Kerala Volunteer Guide will give you guidance on how to get your visas.
  5. Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program. You can get in touch with our team if you need travel insurance organised.
  6. Vaccinations are important. We recommend you visit your local travel clinic to find out what vaccines you should take.
  7. We work with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for travel to India. Goto www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo to find out how best to avoid trouble when abroad. Packed with essential travel advice and tips, the website also offers up-to-date country information.
  8. We understand it can be difficult to pay for your flights, program fees and other travel costs. Many fundraise for their journey. If you need ideas and a platform for fundraising ideas Click Here
  9. For support on any of the above email us hello@volunteeringjourneys.com

Here’s what your First Week looks like:

Arrival Weekend: Once you get picked up from the airport you will be taken to our volunteers house or your homestay. One of our local team will come and meet you and give you a house and area orientation. You will also be given 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. 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.

Weekends :

If you’re volunteering in Kerala, you’ll love exploring Cochin‘s backwaters at weekends. You can stay in a weekend houseboat and immerse yourself in local life on the water. Nearby, you will also find the Munnar Tea PlantationsVarkala Beach and Kovalam Beach. If you’re volunteering in Kolkata, be sure to explore the Himalayan foothills and famous tea town of Darjeeling or head to the amazing Sundarban Jungles to go tiger spotting.  

What Happens When I Arrive?


Living Arrangements:

We instil community living to encourage organic friendships and easy socialising after hours. You will be housed in shared accommodation 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 and lunch 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.

Health and Safety :

When you join our programs you can be assured we have carried out Risk Assessments to identify potential safety and health risks on projects and in the community. We share this information with you in our pre departure documents and on arrival. Our local staff are well trained and we provide 24/7 emergency numbers to all participants. Please read our Health and Safety pages for more details.

Volunteering Journeys Foundation:

Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Volunteering Journey’s Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through supporting local charities, local organisations and community projects in the places that we work in. 100% of each donation goes directly to support our projects. Go to our Donation page if you want to support or fundraise to support our programs.


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.’

    Fiona Kirk
    Connect with Fiona via our Facebook page
  • ‘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!!!’

    Jemima Kershberg
    Connect with Jamie via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • ‘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’

    Glyn Owen
    Connect with Glyn via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • “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”

    Laura Prigogine
    Connect with Laura via our Facebook reviews page
  • ‘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’


    Katie Parsons
    Connect with Katie via our Facebook Reviews page
  • ‘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.’

    Elidith Cameron
    Connect with Eilidith via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • ‘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!’

    Jane Daniell
    Connect with Jane via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • ‘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!’

    Harminder Athwal
    Connect with Harminder via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • “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.”

    Aimee Chirio
    Connect with Aimee via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • ‘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’

    Andrew Davies
    Connect with Andrew via our Facebook Reviews Page
  • ‘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.’

    Bob- Family-Volunteering-Review
    Bob Macauley & Family
    Connect with Bob via our Facebook Reviews Page

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Change the lives of women in India and work towards reversing gender inequality in one of the lowest GII countries in the world. Expand your mind and help to give women a second chance at a better life.

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