Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, India

Barli educates and empowers young, rural women to lead the social and economic development of their communities. Based in Indore, the Institute has so far trained 8,500 young women from about 800 villages. 94% of Barli graduates contribute to the income of their families.

About the project

The Barli Development Institute for Rural Women (Indore, India) offers a six-month residential training program for rural and tribal young women to educate and empower them to become leaders and agents of social change in their communities. The program includes literacy training, vocational training, health education, and community development.

In just six months, Barli students learn to read and write, are trained to generate their own income as tailors, and learn about organic farming, solar cooking, health and hygiene, as well as women’s rights, conflict resolution, and community service. All graduates receive a sewing machine and a government-recognized certificate that allows them to apply for small business loans to set up their own tailoring shops.

The Barli Institute is a portal for social change, using a forward-thinking curriculum to address complex, in-grained norms and build a world where women and girls can thrive. It is recognized by UNESCO as one of the top 100 education projects in developing countries.

How we help

Barli has been empowering rural and tribal women since 1985. With support from Mona Foundation, it has grown to offer its six-month residential courses to 200 young women every year and has now trained more than 8,500 women from over 800 villages.

The Institute has witnessed significant positive change among its students and their communities. Inside its nurturing walls, the young women are safe to explore new walks of life. They find their voices as women and develop self-confidence and a thirst for learning.

While most of the women are illiterate when they arrive, 100% pass the national literacy exam at the end of the six-month program and can read and write in Hindi (not their native language).

94% of Barli graduates contribute to the income of their families. By leaning a trade and generating income, the women also earn the respect of their families and village, change the hearts and minds of their fathers and brothers about gender equality, and inspire other young women to walk in their footsteps.

Because of Barli’s focus on service and community development, educating one woman at Barli improves the lives of 10 others immediately and 100 more over time.

Kali’s story: Born a girl, poor, and disabled by polio, Kali had three strikes against her. Attending Barli changed her life and inspired a community.  Read more

As of April 22, 2020 the Barli Institute is able to safely continue their training of 51 students and the nationwide lock down has been extended until May 3rd. The Barli Institute by design is isolated so when the coronavirus pandemic initially broke out in India, the students and faculty were safe from the threat. All students and faculty are still healthy, have sufficient food/vegetables for all to last till May and are in the process of procuring more. The teachers and Director are in constant communication with the parents of the resident students. Additionally, the trainees who safely returned home before lock down are also in regular contact with Barli.

At campus, the students are continuing their normal training and curricular activities learning stitching  and literacy and health. They have added relevant activities and stitching sessions to boost their morale and keep them creatively busy. They are preparing Gyan natika (similar to the concepts of Happy-hippo-shows / short skits ) on socially important issues; training in public speaking; learning motivational and inspirational songs; to regular briefing sessions and awareness programs on current world situation and ways to tackle COVID-19 in their home villages.

The students have also stitched masks and are aware of the pandemic and the precautions that have to be followed during coming months. Each trainee has  stitched masks for themselves. Study materials have been prepared for them on COVID-19 which they will take back home.

Each year, Barli trains about 200 young women and girls from underserved communites through a six-month residential program  using local teachers and trainers from among their peers. It is a holistic curriculum with experiential and hands-on classes: literacy, health and hygiene including HIV, transfer of solar technology, organic agriculture, overall personality and social development through a specially-designed, “Developing Myself and My Community” curriculum, gender equality and income-generating skills like stitching and tailoring to contribute to the process of personal and social transformation and sustainable community development.

At the end of the training programme, interested and eligible trainees appear in the Cutting & Tailoring examination conducted by National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an institution under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

Among the new-batch trainees, those having sufficient communication skills are selected as facilitators of groups for peer-tutoring and are trained as Grassroots Trainers. In the initial stages of their training, they follow the same curriculum as other students. In addition, they also advance their vocational skills and develop their abilities as trainers by helping to facilitate classes for the Community Volunteers and functioned as peer-tutors. They develop the necessary skills to use the Institute’s curriculum to conduct classes and to establish education and health programs in their own communities after their return. Some of these trainees also appear in Cutting & Tailoring examination from the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an institution under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

These six-monthly training programs are residential and entirely free of cost for trainees. The Institute provides room and board, and all educational facilities, as well as complete health checkups and medications.The Institute also provides health-care and hospitalization in case a trainee falls ill during the training period. During the reporting period, the Institute has successfully exceeded in achieving its training goals.

In addition to community and grassroots volunteers, we trained, 29 senior trainees – out of which 21 prepared for high school, 4 prepared for higher secondary school and 4 prepared for graduation and post graduation.

Barli has a vigorous evaluation and monitoring process in place conducted through interviewing the trainees, parents and family members, village visits, and external agencies.   Below are a few indicators they use to track progress year over year.  For more details contact

  1. Number of Admissions
  2. Percentage of trainees that pass the National Level Open School Exam of Cutting and Tailoring.
  3. Number of Trainees (who are initially literate) that successfully learn reading, writing and basic arithmetic at the end of the training program.
  4. Number of resident trainees who enroll for high school, or for higher secondary school, or graduation course (trainers who have completed the initial six-month course.)
  5. Percentage of trainees who are motivated to start their own tailoring shop.
  6. Number of trainees motivated to restart their education after going back.
  7. Number of trainees motivated to use organic agriculture when they return to their village.
  8. Number of parents who attend the parents meeting.
  9. Number of trainees that can understand these concepts clearly after the training:
    1. Importance of hygiene and sanitation, mensuration, child birth and pregnancy, immunization, the use of thermometer, how to administer first aid in case of burns, snake bite, wound or drowning.
    2. How to prepare ORS; the importance of regular checkup by doctor, methods of family planning; HIV AIDS causes; cancer –types, causes, symptoms and treatment.
  10. All trainees during their training program experience better health measured by:
    1. Increase in hemoglobin count
    2. Increase in weight of underweight trainees
  11. Number of trainees who will plant trees in their villages when they go back.
  12. Number of trainees who will teach illiterate women in their village to read and write.

Kali’s Story

Transforming self, family, and community

Pooja’s Story

“Education gives confidence. Education gives wings. Education makes dreams possible.”

Manju’s Story

“If you set your heart to achieve something, no one can stop you.”

Ranu’s Story

“I want to complete my education so I am empowered to educate women and work for the environment.”

Support the 2021 needs of this award winning Institute serving the rural women of Indore.

Click on each of the suggested donation amounts below to see what your investment in education of rural girls and women can support in this unique institute.


2020 Achievements

COVID19 interrupted the educational process at the beginning of the year and reduced the number of graduates


– 76 young women trained in literacy, health & hygiene, environmental education, personal & community development, income generation, and computer skills

– 29 teachers trained


The Director visited 8 villages in 4 districts, impacting about 280-320 students and their families

– Distributed over 500 tree saplings – fruit and medicinal

630 parents and family members were shown the importance of education women

2,280 community members directly impacted from service projects

2021 Project Goals

  • Graduate 150 new trainees and train 25 teachers
  • Provide college scholarships to 7 trainees

Change two lives!

Give $67 a month to support the training of 2 women at Barli.