• Women's Empowerment

Empowering women in India: why you should volunteer to support gender equality

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo

Posted: May 3, 2021

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19

Empowering women in India starts with education and professional training, and you can make a meaningful contribution. 

GVI’s volunteer projects in India offer the opportunity to work directly with local women, supporting them as they take steps to change their lives. 

In India, women are paid 34% less than men in the same job with the same level of education, Oxfam revealed. This stark inequality means poverty weighs heavier on India’s women and girls. 

In Kochi, educational projects help to ensure women have access to the same resources as their male counterparts. This gives women the opportunity to empower themselves and become more financially independent. 

If you’re passionate about gender equality, you can get involved in these essential projects. Here’s how to add to the empowerment of women in India through GVI’s volunteer programs. 


Why is women’s empowerment important for development?

A mere glance at gender equality statistics highlights why women’s empowerment is important.

Women’s economic empowerment gives women and their entire families more opportunities to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. 

According to the United Nations (UN), women reinvest 90% of their income into their families, compared to men who only spend 30–40% of what they earn in the same way. 

As such, economically empowered women have healthier and better-educated children, which supports the development of their wider communities. 

This leads to overall improvement in development in the country. Indeed, studies have shown that development programs are most effective when steps are taken to improve the status of women.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that if women were able to participate equally in India’s workforce, the country’s GDP would increase by 27%

Currently, women make up less than one-third of the labour force in India. 

In addition to earning less than male colleagues, women also hold more responsibility for unpaid work such as caring for and nurturing children or managing households. 

Being overburdened with low-paying work, combined with an unequal societal status, leaves women and the families they care for more vulnerable. 

In order for progress to be made, women’s empowerment is imperative. 


How can education help empower women in India?

The difference in education between men and women in India can be seen in the wide gap between literacy rates between the genders. According to an article published in the International Journal of Advanced Research, the literacy rate for men is over 80%. For women, it’s only 65.46%. 

Creating equal opportunities for skills and knowledge development is one of the most important means for women’s empowerment. 

Education means women can cultivate the skills and self-confidence they need to empower themselves and participate fully in development work. 

The right training can help to bridge the gender gap in jobs and skills, meaning women can access better employment opportunities.

This means women can actively pursue their goals and dreams, taking control of their own decision making and financial independence. 


How do GVI’s volunteering projects help women to empower themselves?

When you volunteer on women’s empowerment programs with GVI, you’ll have the chance to actively work towards gender equality. 

In India, this involves helping to run a range of workshops with local women. You could engage with women in conversational English classes, assisting them as they improve their language skills so they can work in tourism and speak with international visitors. 

Or, you could engage community members in computer skills classes. By facilitating lessons on how to use software such as word processing applications or spreadsheets, you can help women acquire the skills they need to seek higher-paying roles. 

You can also support women in their job search by assisting them to develop CVs or hone their interview skills. 

Working closely with local women, you’ll also be motivated to continue making a positive impact when seeing them thrive.


What does women’s empowerment look like in Kochi’s community?

Women and girls of all ages seek to empower themselves to better their own lives and those of their families. 

No matter what life stage a local woman may find themselves in, there’s always space for education and training.


Anika is a middle-aged woman who worked with GVI participants on a women’s empowerment project. As part of the program, she attended conversational English classes where she practised her spoken-language skills. She also studied computer skills, and took IT classes so she could learn how to manage fundamental software and applications.

Business and professional development workshops with the participants rounded out her training, and helped to equip her with the confidence she needed to choose which direction she would like to take professionally. 

Through workshops and her interactions with participants, Anika had the opportunity to seek higher-paying employment, or to even run her own small business. 

This gives her more freedom and a better income. More financial opportunities mean she will be able to support her children through their own education, giving them a better chance to finish school and in turn find better job opportunities as well. 

Through her own drive and motivation, Anika can add to the empowerment of her family as well as easing the effects of intergenerational poverty. 



Kashvi is a teenager, still in school. 

With the participants, and other boys and girls her age, she took part in discussions about gender equality.

Kashvi has learned about her right to make decisions about her body, why her education matters, and the kinds of opportunities that might be available to her after she graduates. 

She shares what she learns with her family, so her parents, brother and sisters are also learning about the importance of gender equality and freedom of choice for women. 

Be part of this positive impact. Support women’s empowerment in India once travel opens up again when you volunteer with GVI. Browse our volunteer programs in India and other countries today. 

By Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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