India Women’s Empowerment Short Term Internship

Support development by empowering women and girls and work to increase gender equality, in India.


Program Information

Travel to Kerala, India, and help contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #5, Gender Equity. Our sustainable, long-term women’s empowerment program helps increase the quality of women and young girls’ education. You can look forward to receiving skill-based training and mentorship, which in turn can help improve your career skills. India also offers you fascinating cultures, stunning scenery, wildlife in national parks and trademark tea and spice plantations.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

With two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population female and countless girl children not receiving a basic education, supporting women in developing countries is vital to helping overcome critical social issues such as poverty and unemployment.

By supporting women in society and giving them access to equal opportunities such as an education, jobs and health care, everyone benefits. Infant mortality rates go down, more children stay in school, incomes increase and the cycle of poverty can be broken. You will join a dedicated team of international participants, assisting on sustainable and invaluable women’s empowerment initiatives.



In India, women are born into a society that is still having to face social inequalities ranging from gender-specific abortions, mistreatment from their spouses, eve teasing, being married off at an early age and in some cases being denied an education by their families. Through our initiatives in India, we aim to assist in gender equality through various educational, healthcare and income initiatives and empower local women by educating them, and build their capacity to support themselves and their families further.

Highlights
Contribute towards meaningful and sustainable women’s empowerment initiatives and make a difference in the lives of girls and women in the local community; meet participants from across the world; support local tea and saree shops or henna artists and immerse yourself in the Indian culture; experience a new culture through its local people; explore India, while kayaking along the rivers and cycling through villages; spend the night on a houseboat and cruise along the enchanting backwaters; indulge in a traditional Ayurvedic massage or simply spend your down time relaxing on the gorgeous beaches the country has to offer!

All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects.

Program Details

Program Type: Internship
Location: Asia - India - Kerala

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Life on the Internship

During your time on this internship, you will be living in the southern state of Kerala. A region famed for its beautiful backwaters, mountains and art forms like Kathakali. You will be staying in shared dormitory style accommodation with your fellow interns and volunteers, near to the center of town, with running water, electricity and flushing toilets. Interns can look forward to experiencing authentic dishes from the local community, with lunch and dinner being prepared in the local style.

Upon your arrival, you will receive an introductory orientation by the staff covering health and safety, a basic local language lesson, a tour of the town, an introduction to our local partners and initial training to prepare you as much as possible for work on the project.

From Monday to Friday you will be involved in numerous facets of our women’s empowerment program depending on the needs of the projects and partners at that given time and as such should be prepared to be flexible and adapt to change in the field. From providing one-on-one educational lessons with girl children in local schools, to hosting alternative income and health workshops around the community or working in vocational training centres, all your time and effort will be geared to uplifting the women of India and providing long-term solutions to gender imbalance and discrimination.

On the weekends you will be free to explore this stunning location. Kerala offers a variety of culture and wildlife trips to sate the desire of your inner travel junkie with exploring hill-stations, tiger reserves, backwater lagoons and remote beach-side fishing villages just some of the options to choose from, there’s no need to ever experience a dull moment! Close to base you can soak in the local culture visiting famous temples, the Mannacherry traders area, St Francis Church or one of the palaces. Visit a cricket match, choose from an array of boutique art galleries, or experience the local cuising, often claimed to be India’s best, at a huge variety of cafes and restaurants. For trips further afield, the Periyar and Parambikulam tiger reserves offers you the chance to spot elephants, monkeys and hornbills as well as tigers. Many interns have spent some weekends exploring Mumbai or Bangalore.

Project Details

In India, women and girls experience different forms of gender discrimination. Whether it's from sexual harassment, fewer employment opportunities or unequal pay, Indian women are often not treated as equals to their male counterparts.

GVI is providing women and girls with the skills to make opportunities more accessible through our workshops and courses. Our projects will be focused on providing education, health care, life skills and income opportunities in order to help women further their education and become more financially independent, while at the same time making sure they are aware of their rights, have access to basic health care and skill development opportunities.

On this internship you might have the chance to help us achieve these goals in the following ways:

  • Providing access to education on literacy, rights and life skills

  • Providing alternative income generation skills workshops

  • Providing courses on women's health or support women with special needs or mental health issues

  • Providing additional educational support to young girls in local schools and communities


As an intern you will eventually be expected to take a leadership role on project, providing an example for both the women/students and other volunteers and interns.

How this project makes a difference

Through the various objectives that this project focuses on, GVI is able to address the various gender inequalities that exist within the local communities in Kerala. Through our health care initiatives, we are able to educate local women in general and family health care, thereby helping to reduce infant and child mortality rates and create healthier families. By giving women access to the same local resources as men such as an education, we can increase the income threshold per household, empower women to become more financially independent and help them to achieve their personal and professional goals.

*There are many religious and cultural festivals throughout the year in India, as well as school holidays and exam periods. During these periods we may run activities and programmes that are slightly different. Its possible that during these periods you might support the running of 'Summer School' workshops for children in local communities, create lesson plans and resources for future volunteer work, facilitate adult training programmes related to a range of issues or help out with some construction or maintenance work at our local partners. Where possible we would also like you to enjoy the festivities and engage with our partners in the community this way. There may be times when we are able to enjoy the varied entertainment, food and traditions that Kerala has to offer.

India short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in India:


1. Increase women's opportunities in Kerala

2. Ensure healthy lives, well-being and promote opportunities and equality for those with special needs in Kerala

3. Enable the absolute development of children and young adults in Kerala by providing support and training in LSBE (life skills base education)

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Exploration

Interning with GVI not only allows you to participate in programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area outside of project work or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after interning, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the internship.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Kerala field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in India!

Included Side Trips
You will embark on an orientation of Fort Kochi during your arrival weekend, seeing the main tourist sites of the local town, as well as the many hidden treasures. You will also be able to see a traditional Keralan Kathakali dance show, which will open your eyes up to the wonders of India and its culture.

Optional Side Trips
Kerala offers a variety of different adventure trips from trekking to mountainbiking, kayaking and even tiger tracking in some of the most beautiful locations that India has to offer. Close to base in Fort Kochi, the 14th century Chinese fishing nets, St Francis Church and an amazing array of boutique art galleries, cafes and restaurants make for an amazing cultural experience.

One of Kerala’s finest attractions popular with our interns is the backwaters tour, an experience of breath-taking beauty and serenity as you snake through the incredible landscape on a houseboat. You can stay overnight, eat amazing local cuisine, and gaze at the sunset: a perfect weekend getaway.

The Periyar Forest and National Park offers safari outings and a chance to spot elephants, monkeys and tigers if you’re lucky, combined with some spectacular scenery along the way. For the more active, you can get even closer to it all with a number of trekking options.

Kerala can boast some incredible beaches within reasonable distances from your base. Marari and Cherai baech are a short 40-minute drive with beautiful sandy beaches lined with coconut trees, while Varkala is a little further with restaurants and cafés perched spectacularly on cliffs offering incredible views of the ocean.

And if tea is your poison, then this is the location for you… tea plantations stretching as far as the eye can see and jaw dropping views of mountain ranges and valleys await. There are sightseeing and trekking options available (depending on seasons) for the adventurous, or you can just sit and relax, breathe the fresh mountain air, and soak it all in.

Further Travelling Opportunities
For those with a little more time on their hands, you may want to consider some of the following. The Taj Mahal will be top of most India bucket lists, but beyond this famous landmark; the quaint hill stations in Darjeeling; the Ganges at Varanasi; the desert and fort palaces of Jaisalmer and Udaipur; safari at Kanha National Park (home of Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’); the lively nightlife of Mumbai; or the laid back atmosphere of Goa will leave you with an everlasting experience of India.

The Team

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Jutten George

Transport Coordinator and Translator
Meet Jutten, our local Transport Coordinator and Translator here at our hub in India. Being a native of the country, he was asked to drive the tuk-tuk and coordinate the other tuk-tuks for the volunteers in Kerala. Later he was offered to be a official staff member and was thrilled to take the job.

He has worked with all of the projects here in Kerala. "I like to work with both the sports and health projects, because I enjoy seeing the beneficiaries happy and satisfied."

Before working with GVI he was a package tour driver as an English/Hindi/Tamil speaking tour guide. Since joining us he has taken great pride in his work and is enjoying meeting all the volunteers. "I like to see people happy. All the people that I meet through working here are treating me as their own."

Jill Walker

Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”


When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”


What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”

Lucy Grehan

Base Manager
Meet Lucy, our Base Manager here in Kerala. As wildlife conservation student, she initially joined GVI as a wildlife conservation intern to gain practical experience before staying on as a part of the team. Lucy has worked on our former Shimoni hub as long-term staff member before moving to India.

What does Lucy think volunteers bring to the projects? ” Without a doubt, the programs would not be able to run without the volunteers. The sheer amount of data volunteers help us to collect is immense, and so vitally important.”

Lucy’s highlights since working for GVI? “Setting up a new partner project in Kenya’s Western province, where I worked with a grassroots community group in Kenya’s last rainforest was amazing."

Zeno Wijtten

Country Director
Meet Zeno, our Country Director in India. He used to work on Crocodile Morphology and Ecology and has even trekked the Sierra Madre mountain range in the North of the Philippines in search of one of the last members of a critically endangered freshwater crocodile population. Zeno used to be our Country Director in Kenya a few years ago before moving to India.

His most memorable moments since he started working with GVI? Was discovering a population of ‘hidden’ African Skimmer Birds at Lake Turkana, which turned to represent almost 40 percent of the world population. “That, and when my cat left a snake at my bed as a ‘present’, which turned out to be a new species for Kenya!”

His favourite aspect of his job? ”Seeing people being in awe of everything new around them, realising and completely accepting how different their world of experiences suddenly has become.”

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Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Kerala's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVIIndiaKerala

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.