Women's empowerment volunteering
People around the world are working together to bridge the gap between genders. But even today, women and girls remain the more marginalised members of society.
Women’s empowerment work helps women and young girls to participate as equal members of society. And you can travel abroad and witness first-hand how women are empowering themselves, and making big changes in their lives and the lives of their families.
Volunteering on a women's empowerment program abroad is a great way to see the world, meet people from cultures different to your own and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
With GVI, you can contribute to women’s empowerment programs in the following areas:
- teaching and skills development
- micro-enterprise development
- global public health
- young girls’ education.
Why is women’s empowerment important?
GVI has been running community-based projects over the last 20 years. Our international staff and participants have witnessed first-hand how a whole community is positively impacted when women and girls are able to play more active roles in society.
How can women empower themselves? Some ways include increasing their status in their community, becoming economically independent and making active contributions to their community’s development. Women can access opportunities to learn the skills they need by joining workshops and training programs.
Infant mortality rates go down when women have better access to public health and prenatal care. More children stay in school, household incomes increase and poverty rates decrease when women enter the workforce. This can result in an increase in the overall well-being of community members.
Working on a women’s empowerment volunteer program
As a women’s empowerment volunteer, you can travel abroad and see parts of the world you might have only imagined. See Asian elephants roaming the lush forests of Thailand by morning, and in the afternoon, assist women and young girls from the hillside Karen community with income initiatives.
Or if you’re in Laos on a women’s empowerment volunteer program abroad, you could finish up a week of English language lessons, and hop onto a cruise along the Mekong River.
When you’re not taking in the natural wonders around you, you’ll be taking in valuable knowledge from our programs. You’ll gain hands-on practical skills while making a positive impact in the lives of women and girls around the world. You can also immerse yourself in local cultures and even learn a new language.
This type of program welcomes volunteers who love to work with people of all ages. Because we work with children, we have strict safety measures in place to protect children and volunteers with our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. For extra care, we also follow strict health and safety policies.
We promote work with a measurable impact that’s done as ethically as possible. That’s why we created a badge of ethics that represents our commitment to ethical best practice in all of our programs.
To find out more about women’s empowerment in action, read our article: How does women’s empowerment contribute to gender equality?
Why volunteer for women’s empowerment?
Women around the world want to empower themselves in their communities, schools and workplaces. If you want to support women and young girls with the platforms they need to do this, then you should consider becoming a volunteer for women’s empowerment.
You won’t just be assisting women in their empowerment work, you’ll also be making a contribution towards alleviating other world issues.
Our women’s empowerment volunteer programs contribute directly towards the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs):
- Goal 1: No Poverty
- Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
- Goal 4: Quality Education
- Goal 5: Gender Equality
- Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Goal 10: Reduced Inequality
- Goal 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goals.
For more information about global issues, read our article: Six critical global issues: what are the world’s biggest problems and how can I help?
What are the five essential factors for empowerment?
There are many important factors for empowerment, but we focus on the following top five:
1) Collaboration: Programs are run in a collaborative environment between stakeholders – organisations, governments and local community members.
2) Equal partnerships: All stakeholders have an equal role in setting and meeting objectives.
3) Support: All stakeholders support one another towards independence and self-empowerment.
4) Sustainability: All collaborative work is done to achieve a long-term sustainable outcome.
5) Representation: All stakeholders are conscious and respectful of how they portray and communicate with one another.
The steps towards self-empowerment on our women's empowerment programs start when women can access the tools they need to take control of their lives. They do this by joining classes to learn about opportunities available to them as well as GVI-facilitated workshops to develop the skills needed for these opportunities. This is the first of many steps in the journey of self-empowerment.
We are working together with as many women around the world as we can and you can too. Become a volunteer on a women’s empowerment program and support women with access to equal opportunities in education, gainful employment, community involvement and education on public health.
Where can I volunteer for women’s empowerment with GVI?
GVI makes an impact in countries all around the world. We have a program for every type of participant, from nature enthusiasts to culture-curious individuals. All you have to do is pick one that interests you.
On our women’s empowerment programs you have the option to choose any one of the following locations:
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Oxapampa, Peru
- Kerala, India
- Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- Kokrobite, Ghana
- Livingstone, Zambia
- Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pokhara, Nepal
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Cimarrones, Costa Rica
Volunteer and adventure
Volunteer on one of our international women’s empowerment programs and become a global citizen. Learn new languages, sample local dishes and spend your free time sightseeing and taking in your surroundings.
Here are some top ideas for things you can see and do at some of our bases around the world:
- Angkor Wat Temple Complex: You can volunteer with women in Siem Reap and visit the largest spiritual monument in the world, the Angkor Wat Temple Complex. Learn about the history of the complex from the twelfth century when the temples were built, and gain a deeper understanding of local cultures and traditions.
- Annapurna Circuit trek: Trek the Himalayas after you volunteer on projects for women empowerment in Nepal. Get the ultimate experience of nature between the misty valleys and snow capped peaks of this mountain range. Trekking the Annapurna Circuit is no child’s play, so make sure you’re up for the challenge and those high altitudes.
- Experience cultures: Travel to India and volunteer for women empowerment. You’ll work and live alongside communities, and learn about local cuisine, cultures and languages. Taste Keralan curries, have your hands painted by local artists in traditional mehndi patterns, watch a classical Indian dance called Kathakali, and pick up words from a Keralan language, Malayalam.
- Kilimanjaro National Park: Take part in volunteer work with girls in Tanzania and see Africa’s largest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, situated in the Kilimanjaro National Park. If you’re up for an adventure, you can do more than just sightseeing. Hike to Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit and get a wildlife and adventure experience like no other. See the famous black-and-white landmark, Zebra Rock, on the Marangu route, and try to spot the same-coloured colobus monkey hanging from the branches.
- Kuang Si Waterfalls: Travel to Laos as a women’s empowerment volunteer and take a dip in the crystal pools below these three-tiered, turquoise waterfalls. You’ll be surrounded by lush green trees and the tranquil sounds of birds tweeting between the leaves.
- Learn a language: Volunteer in Costa Rica and help facilitate English language lessons with Spanish-speaking women and children. As you contribute to the development of local participants, you’ll strengthen your Spanish language skills too.
- Thai elephants Travel to the forested hillsides of Northern Thailand to support the empowerment of women and men in the village of Huay Pakoot. You’ll also have the opportunity to hike the mountainous terrain with traditional elephant keepers. You’ll collect data on the progress of the elephants, which are being reintegrated into their natural environments.
What should I know about volunteering in women’s empowerment?
Seven questions to ask before you volunteer for women’s empowerment
Q: Do I need to be a woman to volunteer on a women’s empowerment program?
A: No. We welcome participants of all genders on all of our programs. We’d love to have you join the team.
Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer on a women’s empowerment program?
A: Participants on these programs are required to be 18 years or older. There is no maximum age for volunteers, but some programs, such as those in Chiang Mai require a high level of physical fitness. We have separate programs for under 18 volunteers, some of which include a focus on gender equality.
Q: Is this type of program ethical?
A: GVI is committed to the highest level of ethical best practice across all our programs. This is reflected in our badge of ethics, which represents our dedication to uphold our policies and practices, continuously reflect on and improve them. We work with ethics officers and external experts to ensure the best possible standards. Our organisation is also governed by ten ethical principles and five human empowerment principles.
Q: How long can I volunteer on a women’s empowerment program?
A: Our program durations range from a minimum of 1 week to a maximum of 12 weeks.
Q: Do I need any specific qualifications?
A: No qualifications are required to volunteer on our women’s empowerment programs. All necessary training will be provided by our qualified staff members and field experts.
Q: Where will I live?
A: Depending on the location you choose, you will either live in a homestay with a local family, live in shared accomodation on the GVI base, or stay in a local bnb. Speak to your enrolment manager for the accomodation options in your chosen location.
Q: Who will I be volunteering with?
A: You will volunteer alongside international participants from all walks of life. You’ll have the opportunity to make international friendships for a lifetime. Our professional team of GVI staff will be at every location to support you every step of the way. You’ll also work with local community members and collaborate with the community-based organisations that GVI is partnered with.
GVI women’s empowerment volunteering programs
GVI aims to promote gender equality through various educational, public health and income-building initiatives to help pave the way to a better, more equal future for women and girls.
Some projects for women empowerment might outline a specific focus area for development, like teaching English in places like India. But, many of our programs also include a mix of the following activities.
Teaching and skills development
You can assist women with their personal and professional development by volunteering in teaching. With access to education comes access to better jobs. When women work, an extra income is brought into the household. This means there is more money for children to be sent to school, for families to be well fed, and to help alleviate poverty.
Many of our women’s empowerment programs facilitate English lessons, which play an important role in increasing women’s access to higher education and improving their employability.
You will assist with classes that enable women to read, write and work with numbers. You could also work with other volunteers and GVI staff to host computer skills workshops. Here, women learn to use spreadsheets and word processing applications to up their chances of skilled employment.
For example, in South Africa’s Mother City, Cape Town, GVI works with women in a local community called Nomzamo. Women in South Africa still do not have the same access to opportunities as men. One way you can offer support is to volunteer with GVI to facilitate one-on-one computer classes that help women to gain and maintain computer skills.
Women are also able to gain autonomy, independence and self-empowerment on these programs. Aside from literacy and numeracy classes, you’ll be a part of providing platforms for women to share their experiences with other women. This inspires more women to empower themselves and to get more involved in leadership roles in their community.
Overall, women have less access to gainful employment. But by participating in a volunteer program that focuses on professional skills and micro-enterprise development, you can support women as they work on empowering themselves.
On a women’s empowerment volunteering program you collaborate with local women as they learn vocational skills, practise interviewing for jobs and finetune their CV writing skills. Other women might be looking for insight in setting up and optimising their small business.
Global Public Health
Many people around the world don’t have access to public health facilities, or the know-how to lead healthy lifestyles. On this type of program, you will assist with a variety of initiatives to promote public health and well-being in local communities.
Your role could include facilitating preventative health workshops and discussions with local communities on women’s and children’s health. You might also work with and support local community health workers, giving you the opportunity to learn from experts in the field.
Many girls around the world don’t have access to sanitary care and often have to stay home from school during menstruation. This causes them to miss out on valuable school time. You can be a part of creating safe spaces and promoting access to sanitary care for women and girls in communities around the world.
Join GVI in the historical capital of Laos, Luang Prabang, where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. On a Lao women’s empowerment program, you can work to promote women’s health education and distribute washable menstruation kits in rural communities that have limited access.
Young girls’ education
Did you know that when women and girls have greater access to education, entire communities benefit. That’s why GVI programs focus on increasing educational capacity, and promoting the education of both young girls and boys.
One extra year of primary school education can increase a young girl's future income by 10–20%. One extra year of high school can further increase this income by 15–25%.
That means girls will grow up to access better jobs, and contribute a larger income to their households. More income across households will mean less poverty in the community. You can be a part of these efforts by joining a GVI program that promotes education.
Download our program brochures