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Women's Empowerment Volunteer Project in India - Kerala

Women's Empowerment Volunteer Project in India - Kerala

Support women to gain financial independence
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 1-8 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+
Volunteer house
Program fees
From AU$804 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who can speak English well, have an open-mind, enjoy flexibility and want to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of women in India. No teaching experience is needed as you’ll have the support of a local coordinator, but you will be lesson planning independently so relevant training or a TEFL certificate would be useful. Due to cultural sensitivities in Kerala, this project is only available to female volunteers.

Project details

Inspired to be a Women’s Empowerment volunteer in India - Kerala? International Volunteer HQ’s Women’s Empowerment project enables volunteers to teach free classes for local women who tend to live in highly traditional ways. Volunteers can gain teaching experience while giving English lessons and helping women learn about modern social issues. This can help them build the confidence they need to find jobs and have more independent lives with less gender-based inequality.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Women’s empowerment in India is still a relatively new concept, and many women live very traditionally. By assisting with free classes for local women, volunteers can help to teach English and introduce them to contemporary social issues that can help build independence, confidence and increase their chances of finding employment.

Women in India who can speak English are much more likely to find jobs. However, lessons are often expensive and inaccessible. Women’s Empowerment volunteers provide an alternative by hosting small classes with women aged from 20 to over 70.

It’s important to recognize that the context around women’s equality in India is far different than in other parts of the world, so volunteers should have realistic expectations around what they can achieve. The main focus is on speaking conversational English using contemporary topics.

Women’s Empowerment volunteer duties can vary but generally include:

  • Teaching English to girls and women
  • Discussing contemporary issues
  • Basic health and personal care education
  • Upskilling women through workshops and activities

The local team have started incorporating some more skill building sessions for the local women that is beyond learning English. As such, volunteers have the opportunity to help with embroidery skill building sessions where a local embroidery expert will lead the session. Volunteers will help with documentation, assistance in classes, development of other activities, making certificates, taking photos and creating social media posts to increase the number of women attending these sessions.

Another session that has been added is a computer session using computers that were kindly donated by previous volunteers. Volunteers will follow a basic computer skills textbook to create sessions for the women and will be there to support women to enhance their computer skills.

There is a significant amount of preparation expected from volunteers to plan for their lessons and please also be aware that you will mostly be teaching independently, or with another volunteer. The local team will help you with lesson planning, suggest topics for the lessons and provide ideas for creative ways to teach; however, lesson planning and teaching are ultimately the responsibility of the volunteers. As such, it is highly recommended that volunteers come with ideas of teaching and activities they may like to incorporate into their lessons.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world. Nearly 60% of women work in the informal economy, which puts them at greater risk of falling into poverty. Education and long-term employment opportunities are key to combating this.

Why do Women's Empowerment volunteering in Kerala with IVHQ?

As a Women’s Empowerment volunteer in Kerala you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Teaching women about contemporary social issues
  • Helping women learn English
  • Enabling women to develop new skills in a safe place
  • Chipping away at conservative inequalities
  • Gaining experience in empowering women
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Immersing yourself in Indian culture
  • Exploring the charms of Fort Kochi

Volunteer requirements

  • Due to cultural sensitivities in Kerala, this project is only available to female volunteers.
  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Kay Conway
20 Mar 2024

My trip was amazing, it started from the pickup at the airport and arriving at the house. It was all smiles throughout. I didn’t want to leave this particular project because my interaction with the staff and the group was outstanding. Communication was huge when presenting, making sure each woman understood and if they needed assistance, we would explain it further. I’ve met an awesome group of ladies and you would think we had known each other for years! This particular Women’s Empowerment is a hidden gem and should not be left without giving this a 10 star review.

Donna Brown
07 Nov 2023

Within days of arriving in Fort Kochi, India and beginning my volunteer work as an English teacher in the Women's Empowerment Program, I absolutely fell in love with my students and I was mesmerised with India! The women I encountered, and learned to cherish as beloved sisters, were as different from me as I could imagine yet so incredibly similar to me in so many, many ways. My interactions with the caring local staff in Fort Kochi, and with the IVHQ staff member were for the most part very professional and much appreciated. Am I glad I chose IVHQ? Absolutely!!!! Would I recommend IVHQ to others my age who want to experience a different culture in a meaningful, way? Absolutely!!!! In fact, I'm presently planning two more "adventures of a lifetime" through IVHQ.

Núria Antoja Hollenstein
06 Jul 2023

I already volunteered with IVHQ in 2017 and was happy about the support given and the professionality of the planning. The fees are also relatively affordable compared to other projects I checked. The preparation guide and all the website to prepare is very clear and with all the steps easy to follow.

The local team were really helpful for any request personally I needed, from tips for local places to helping me to wrap a sari! The food was very nice and loved to try local food, and even accommodating to my needs (dairy intolerant). The cooks were really great and willing us to enjoy the meals.

My favourite moment was connecting with all the different women in the project from a broad variety of ages, I learnt from their culture and felt really welcomed, and I hope I could also contribute a little to make them feel more confident and empowered for the future. The biggest impact this volunteering trip had on me is giving me perspective of different cultures and approaches in life. The experience of living in a new country in a volunteering house is a completely different way of travelling, getting to know its food or traditions, but also connecting with all the women in the project and finally meeting all the other volunteers in the house, all coming from different parts of the world, with completely different backgrounds but working together for a common purpose.

Volunteering abroad has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It is not only important because I wanted to make time for giving back, but also how much I learnt from myself and the possibility to immerse yourself in a different culture not as a tourist, but being part of the way people live instead. This is my second time doing it, and I would definitely do it again!

Melodie Stairs
16 Jun 2023

I was astonished at how safe I ended up feeling. Despite initial fears once I realized that the team was literally calling my driver's cell and asking to speak with me to ensure I felt safe and was enjoying my trip, that spoke volumes to me. Thank you!!!

My heart overflows with gratitude and love for the team that enabled me to meet such a lovely group of ladies in Kerala! They were willing to let down their guards and allow me into their conversations and homes which far exceeded any expectation I had. They were truly a blessing to me and my personal growth. One of the ladies in our second class of the day shared with us that several women of Kerala are now business owners as a direct result of taking the grammar classes through this program. Even now, I get goosebumps when I think of something that sounds so fixable.

Overall, I couldn't be more thankful for this opportunity and very much look forward to scheduling another trip!! This trip reminded me yet again that life is all about perspective and one's willingness to embrace it.

Eva Chaux
29 Mar 2023

The project coordinators were amazing. They were so kind, calm and always willing to help. I loved them. I came thinking I wouldn’t be able to actually give anything to the women but I leave with my heart full-filed, knowing that I had an impact on them. Maybe it was the longer time that I stayed but I am sure that we made an amazing connection. They are amazing and I will never forget them.

The accommodation was very clean, big, comfortable and perfect location.

I had so many favorite experiences with the rest of the volunteers, the staff and the women. It’s really hard to choose, but one of them might have been a trip we made to a waterpark for women’s day. It was so exciting to see all of the women that happy. There was a specific moment that I will never forget. In the waterpark there was a “Rain disco” that consisted in a place outside with water falling from the roof while there was very loud music. We danced and jumped and laughed.

It is impressive how in totally different parts of the world, everything is actually very similar. Human will always be human that want to love and be loved. Doesn’t matter where, woman stick together.

It can be scary to go out from your comfort zone. It can be scary to leave your home and get to a random place on earth with totally new people but I assure you it will be amazing. This is an experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Go for it and bring the best out of it. It is okay to feel a little ignorant, that’s why you’re there: to learn.

Jennifer Owen
22 Feb 2023

The guidance and preparation resources I received from IVHQ before starting my trip were perfect, IVHQ have thought of everything!

The local team were fab, they were always on hand to support, keen to help us get the best out of the experience and make sure that we were delivering what we needed to as volunteers too.

It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, mostly just understanding another culture and way of life, but also feeling that I’ve done something really positive with my time. It is hard to choose my favourite moment, but I think hosting a live debate with our intermediate English class for and against love or arranged marriages. It provided me with an understanding of a different culture and perspective on life and core values.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in India, Kerala with IVHQ


The city of Kochi (or Cochin) on the south-west coast of India in the state of Kerala is home to IVHQ’s India - Kerala program.

Volunteers live and work in the Fort Kochi area, a popular tourist spot that is famous for small boutiques, colonial buildings, excellent regional cuisine and its unique Chinese fishing nets. Kochi is a safe and welcoming city and volunteers can enjoy an abundance of activities in the surrounding areas, including visiting the hillside tea region of Munnar, cruising the backwaters, or staying in surf and yoga retreats on the coast.

This program is perfect for volunteers who want to experience the rich culture of India, but at a slower pace than you would expect in the capital city of Delhi.

Arrival and orientation

The program begins every Monday and the program orientation begins on the Sunday prior to each start date. Volunteers need to arrive in Kochi on the Saturday prior to their start date.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Cochin International Airport (COK) in Kochi. Your airport pick-up on the Saturday is included in your Program Fee.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Fort Kochi, where the program is located. If you are arriving in the day time, a staff member will be there to greet you at your accommodation. Your accommodation is covered in your program fee and includes the Saturday night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in India prior to your volunteer program, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation where you will be greeted by our local team.

Orientation in Kerala starts on the Sunday prior to your selected start date. Orientation will cover everything you need to know for your volunteer program including an Introduction to India and Indian customs, local language training, rules and expectations, safety and risk management, travel opportunities in India and a detailed introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and explore the beautiful local area.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

On your first day of volunteering, you’ll be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you’ll be working with.


Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that you are volunteering at, but a fairly typical volunteer day would be as follows:

8:30 - 9:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer house.
9:45 - 12:00 PM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.
12:30 - 2:00 PM Lunch break either at the placement or volunteer house. Volunteers can also take this time to lesson plan their sessions for the following day.
2:00 - 5:30 PM Work at the placement. Afterwards, volunteers are free to travel back to the volunteer house, go sightseeing or relax in one of the artsy cafes in town once their project is over.
6:00 - 7:30 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.


Kerala is a gorgeous part of India and your weekends are free for you to explore the incredible beaches, stunning backwaters, serene tea plantations and amazing culture.

Some of the absolute must-dos are the backwaters of Alleppey, where you can stay for a night on a houseboat and meander through the waterways surrounded by coconut trees. The Munnar Tea Plantations are simply breathtaking in terms of views and often compared to the Scottish Highlands. If you are wanting some beach time, head to Marari or Varkala in the South of Kerala. It’s easiest to take a train which is also an experience in itself. There are also great surf spots near Varkala.

If you wish to stay in Fort Kochi during your weekends, then there is plenty to experience. Within walking distance of the volunteer house, you may like to take part in the following: local sightseeing, rent a bicycle, go for a swim in a swimming pool, join yoga classes, walk along the beach, see a local Kathakali show, participate in a local tea experience, check out Jewtown, take pictures with the Chinese Fishing Nets, get some henna, look at the museums, eat at the local cafes, join a local cooking class, visit the many markets, go souvenir shopping, and much more.

If you need more suggestions on how to get around or to book anything, you can always talk to the local team.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers in Kerala are accommodated in a volunteer house run by local coordinators, and the rooms are shared with bunk beds. All bedding is provided and you can expect to be sharing a room with up to 3 other volunteers of the same gender.

Living is basic, but comfortable, and you will have access to electricity, WiFi and western style toilets. Your showers are cold but being a warm climate almost all year, it has never a problem. There are ceiling fans in each room; however, it is important to be aware that there is no air-conditioning at the volunteer accommodation.

Typically mattresses in Asia are a lot firmer than what you may be used to, so please be prepared for that and if you feel that you need more comfort, then you can choose to bring a mattress topper with you (or buy one in-country). Although the majority of the windows are fitted with insect screens (to stop insects), if you also wish to use a mosquito net, you will need to bring a pop up net with you that fits in a bunk bed. You will be required to bring your own toiletries and towels.

Private room upgrades, as well as private air-conditioned upgrades, may be available (subject to availability and at an additional cost) and you can add these to your file once you have registered onto the program.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided at the volunteer accommodation each day, excluding dinner on Sunday evening. Please note that only breakfast and dinner are available to volunteers on the Medical and Physical Therapy projects and lunch needs to be purchased at the hospital or clinic you are placed at, for a very affordable price.

Breakfast is different each day and can include:

  • Idli and chutney - a savoury steamed rice cake served with coconut sambal or chutney
  • Kerala pancakes - thin pancakes filled with jaggery, coconut or bananas
  • Idyappam and curry - string hoppers (rice noodles) served with a chickpea curry
  • Puttu and curry - steamed rice flour with coconut served with a potato curry
  • Eggs, bread, fruit, tea and coffee.

Lunch and dinner feature local curry dishes made with a base of coconut, rice, roti or chapati. Meals are typically vegetarian and include potatoes, okra, brinjal, gourd, carrots, beetroot and various pulses and lentils.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know well in advance of your program so our local team can make arrangements for you. We will do our best to see that your dietary requirements are catered for, but please keep in mind that as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible and you should not expect to eat the same food as you do at home. If you want western style meals you can easily get these at the local cafes and restaurants in the area.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$523) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $505 Equivalent to $72/day
2 weeks $710 Equivalent to $51/day
3 weeks $915 Equivalent to $44/day
4 weeks $1,120 Equivalent to $40/day
5 weeks $1,325 Equivalent to $38/day
6 weeks $1,530 Equivalent to $36/day
8 weeks $1,940 Equivalent to $35/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$523) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Kerala generally find US$100 - US$150 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Sunday dinners
  • Transport to and from your placement and accommodated each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Kerala

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Kerala! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Kerala program.

Backwaters Boat Trip (1 day)
Backwaters Boat Trip (1 day)

Ready for Deeper Exploration of Fort Kochi and Kerala? Consider This Day Trip.

Goa Tour (4 days, 3 nights)
Goa Tour (4 days, 3 nights)

Once your volunteer duration has completed, you can visit Goa - a much loved, picturesque destination located on the banks of the Arabian Sea.

Munnar Tea Plantation Visit (overnight tour)
Munnar Tea Plantation Visit (overnight tour)

Unearth the scenic treasures and rich culture of Kerala with this unforgettable Munnar Tea Plantation Expedition.


Check what's required to visit India

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital New Delhi
Population 1.366 billion
Languages Hindi, English, Malayalam
Currency Indian Rupee (INR)
Time zone UTC+05:30

Weather and climate:

Kochi has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 86°F (30°C) throughout the year. There is a rainy season from May through until September and the temperatures typically drop a little at this time, however you can still expect it to be humid. The hot and dry season is from November until May, with April and May being the hottest months with 90% humidity.

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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