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

Recognized by UNESCO as one of the top 100 education projects in developing countries, Barli Development Institute for Rural Women (Barli) educates and empowers young, rural and tribal women and girls to become leaders and agents of social change in their communities. Though most girls are illiterate when they arrive, 100% pass the national literacy exam within six months and can read and write in Hindi (not their native language).

Along with literacy, the women are trained in cutting and tailoring, in healthcare, agriculture and in sustainable community development including women rights, conflict resolution, and organizing moral education for children. Every student attending the Barli Institute conducts at least 3 service projects in their home village (including children’s education, female literacy, women’s health, environmental conservation, among others) and is expected to involve at least 25 families.

How we help

The overall goal of Barli Development Institute for Rural Women is to initiate and build the process of sustainable community development through the empowerment of young rural and tribal women to become agents of social change. Founded in 1985, the Institute has trained 8,500 young women from about 800 villages. The training programs are focused on empowerment of women by training them in skills to contribute towards the development of their own communities in the areas of literacy, vocational skills, health and hygiene, environmental conservation, organic farming and gender mainstreaming.

To achieve this, the Institute has been building the capacity of its trainees in promoting equality of men and women in a way that reduces the gender gaps in society in general and education and health in particular. It facilitates their active participation in their personal and social development. The program has witnessed significant positive changes among the trainees and their communities.

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.

Chetna is a graduate of Barli Institute. After completing her 6 month course she stayed back for another year to learn typing and computers. Her father was a driver who died suddenly of heart failure one year after she returned home. Chetna restarted her education and also decided to support her family’s income.  She used the skills learnt at Barli to work as a receptionist in a motor-bike showroom in Indore city. Her confidence and hardwork has made her one of the most successful and loved employee of the company. Now in addition to reception, she is also learning to do marketing and sales tasks.

Sonu, from Kumerikakad village,  is a graduate who has set up a successful stitching shop in the city. She also teaches stitching to girls in her neighborhood.

To expand her business income she decided to undertake a course in beauty parlor management and now works as a makeup artist in her spare time. She is a role model for girls in her community due to her self-reliance.

Kali was born in a tribal household in Alirajpur and contracted polio as a child. Illiterate, poor, and as a woman, she would have been a community outcast. But she attended the Barli Institute six-month training course. Now, she reads and writes, owns her own tailoring shop, earns enough money to not only support herself but also pay for the education of all the children in her family, and has, at her own initiative, formed a “micro-financing self-help group” to help 12 other women grow their own businesses. She has also bought and specially fitted a scooter so that she can get around more easily.

Mona Foundation provided $300 to train Kali for six months covering her room, board and training. Kali is now lifting herself and other women out of poverty, while transforming the hearts and minds of her community on the importance of educating women.

Support the 2020 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.


2019 Achievements

191 young women trained in literacy, health & hygiene, environmental education, personal & community development, income generation, and vocational skills

26 teachers trained


1,146 parents and family members were shown the importance of education women

9,550 community members directly impacted from service projects

2020 Project Goals

  • Graduate 200 new trainees and train 25 teachers
  • Provide college scholarships to 7 trainees
  • Build small scale dairy farming unit and bee-keeping center, pending land usage permits

Change two lives!

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