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Women's Empowerment Volunteer Project in Kerala - India

Women’s empowerment in India is still a relatively recent concept, and many women live very traditional lives. By taking free classes for local women, volunteers can help to teach English, and educate them on contemporary social issues to help build independence and confidence, and enable them to combat conservative inequalities.

English is an official language in the city of Kochi, and women who can speak it are much more likely to find jobs. However, lessons are often expensive and inaccessible. Volunteers provide an alternative by hosting small classes with women from 20 to over 70, to increase their confidence and chances of finding jobs. By also focusing on social issues, you can add to the value of the class by empowering women.

Women's Empowerment volunteer in Kerala, India with IVHQ

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 you will achieve. The main focus is on speaking conversational English using contemporary topics.

This project is run with the help of a dedicated local co-ordinator, who can help to prepare lessons and provide resources. This means you don’t need prior teaching experience, but it is important you have a good grasp of the English language. We encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, such as a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.

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Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable fees from $420 for 1 week
  • Educate and empower women aged 20-70+

  • Help to teach the English language and contemporary social issues

  • Enhance women’s job prospects and cultural understanding

  • Best suited to volunteers who care about providing equal opportunities

  • Volunteer for up to 5 hours per day

Destination Highlights
India at a glance
  • Based in the tropical south Indian city of Kochi, rated in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2020

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, a daily breakfast and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in a modern volunteer house

  • Between 10 and 15 volunteers start in Kerala each month

The India - Kerala volunteer program is located in the city of Kochi (or Cochin) on the south-west coast of India in the state of Kerala. 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 Delhi. IVHQ also offers a separate volunteer program in Delhi, so if you would like to experience India from its buzzing capital, you can learn more about the India - Delhi volunteer program.

The IVHQ India - Kerala volunteer program starts every Monday. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for durations ranging from 1 week to 8 weeks. The Medical and Dentistry projects have a minimum project duration of 2 weeks.

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 orientation.

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 traveling 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.

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.

Weekdays: A typical volunteer day would be as follows:

8.30 AM - 9:30AM Breakfast at the volunteer house.

9.45 AM - 12.00 PM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that you are volunteering at.

12.30 PM – 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 PM – 3.00 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.

6.30 PM – 7.30 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.

There is a group meeting held once a week on Thursdays that all volunteers are expected to attend to discuss their program with staff and other volunteers.

Please note, this schedule may vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating on.

Volunteers in Kerala are accommodated in Kochi in a volunteer house run by local coordinators. Living is basic but comfortable and you will have access to electricity, WiFi and western-style toilets. There are fans provided, however, it is important to be aware that there is no air-conditioning at the volunteer house. Your showers are cold but with the warm climate almost all year, it’s never a problem. All bedding is provided and you can expect to be sharing a room with 1 to 4 other volunteers of the same gender. If you would prefer to be accommodated in a private room with air conditioning, you can pre-arrange this with your IVHQ Program Manager as soon as you have registered for the program.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is 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 Dentistry projects and lunch needs to be purchased at the hospital or clinic you are placed at, for a very affordable price.

Breakfast is different on each day and would be either Indian Breakfast or on some days eggs, bread, fruit and tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner features local curry dishes made with a base of coconut, rice, roti or chapatti. Meals are typically vegetarian and include potatoes, okras, 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 that 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 this at the local cafes and restaurants in the area.

India - Kerala

Length of Program Program Fee $USD
1 week $420
2 weeks $565
3 weeks $710
4 weeks $855
5 weeks $1,000
6 weeks $1,145
8 weeks $1,435
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee (from US$299) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • To see prices in your local currency, use this currency converter.
  • The Medical and Dentistry projects have a minimum duration of 2 weeks and a surcharge of US$50 per week for training and resources used on these projects.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply
What extra costs will I have?
  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, transport to and from placement, in-country trips or tours.
  • Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program.
  • Spending money - Volunteers in Kerala generally find US$30 to be sufficient for weekly expenses
Registration Fee
What it covers
  • Most affordable program fees
  • Expert support from a program specialist
  • Full MyIVHQ account access
  • Online volunteer training
  • Comprehensive preparation tools
  • IVHQ alumni rewards
Program Fee
What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Volunteer placement
  • Accommodation
  • Meals

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

See our India - Kerala Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in India!

Capital New Delhi
Population 1.237 billion
Languages Hindi, English and 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.

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate on this program, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers a Supervised Youth Adventure program in India - Kerala. Visit our Supervised Youth Adventure page to learn more.

All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check, and this must be uploaded to your MyIVHQ profile prior to arriving in India.

Volunteers on the Medical and Dental projects must be medical or dental students, or students of nursing or another relevant medical field.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the registration fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!