Saheli Centers - Vocational and Welfare Centers for Women

RFPD has been supporting Rotary Saheli Center projects since 2003. The purpose of these centers is to foster women’s engagement in the workforce and provide them with the knowledge and skills needed to raise household income. Programs are designed to increase literacy, to foster health and nutrition, and to improve local economic conditions. Long term goals include the reduction of gender-based inequality and the mitigation of unwanted fertility. 

Training and Curriculum                                                                                                                      

Vocational classes are taught by certified teachers and offered in six-month blocks. Topics range from tailoring, sewing and knitting, to computer education, equipment maintenance and literacy. Further topics are added to meet local needs and requests. Each class includes a supplementary unit on primary health, reproductive health and child spacing. Workshops on family planning orientation and methods are also provided every six months, with husbands and family members encouraged to attend.

Afghanistan - AWAKEN Saheli Center for Women 

RFPD has been providing support to the AWAKEN Saheli Center for Women in Qala-E-Malakh, Behsood, Afghanistan since 2017. This center focuses on tailoring and computer literacy training and collaborates with a local medical clinic where students can access family planning supplies. During the first two project years, eight comprehensive vocational courses were offered - four on tailoring and four on computer literacy. Multiple workshops on nutrition, health, child spacing and family planning were organized as well. Together, these classes provided a valuable training opportunity to over 200 local women, 48 of whom report having since started their own business. To help ensure continued engagement, funds were set aside by the board to secure an additional 12-month run-time. Efforts are ongoing to solicit additional funds and project partners; those interested in supporting this project are encouraged to contact Bibi Bahrami ( 

The first Saheli Center opened in 2003, a project byDistrict 3250, India, to provide vocational education throughout the district. Spearheaded by Sandeep Narang – PDG, RI Board ’19 – local clubs have continued to open centers and today there are 35 centers in the district; the last five opened in the past three years. Other centers are located throughout India, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Vocational training and access to professional family planning services are key for women’s empowerment, financial independence and gender equality. Furthermore, women employed for income bear less children than their non-employed sisters and contribute to lowering the rate of population growth in their home countries.


Photo Credit: Abdullah Nooria – AWAKEN Afghanistan Director


Key data  

Project Area:  Qala-E-Malakh, Behsood Afghanistan

Objective: Economic and Community Development

Time frame: 2017 -2019

Budget: $45,000

Host club: RC Jalalabad, Afghanistan (District 2430)

International partner: RC LaBelle, Florida, USA (District 6960)

Further partner: AWAKEN - Afghan Women’s And Kids Education & Necessities

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Contribution: 3.7, 4.4, 5.5, 5.6


India - Saheli Vocational Training Centers (District Project 2980)

Vocational Education inluded in training to become a clinical lab technician, training in use of computers to become employed in an office setting which could require accounting knowledge and other secretarial duties, and tailoring classes so graduates could become employed in the clothing construction industry, and for contracts within the home. Qualified and licensed teachers were employed for these classes organized and staffed by the various Rotary Clubs in the communities where the centers are located. The volunteer instructors are doctors and other health professionals. These classes covered family planning, reproductive health, child spacing, prenatal and early childhood nutrition. 

These centers covered two focus areas of TRF - Maternal and Child Health and Economic and Community Development.  Three hundred students were enrolled during this first year of operation.  The equipment, facilities, and teachers are planned for three hundred and twenty students to be trained each year. 

The cooperating organizations are keeping records on the students following their education at centers to determine the number of women/girls employed in the area of training, the number who are self employed in the area of their training,information regarding family health,use of education regarding nutrition and reproduction, and their family status - economical and physical health. 

In additon to the host club, the Rotary Clubs of Salem, Thanjavur, Mayiladuthurai Midtown and Salem Galaxy are involved with the continuation of this project throught regular reviews and analysis of the project results. The clubs will also continue the Maternal and Child Health programs for all students.

Key Data

Club/District Partner(s): RC Tiruchengode, District 2980, Host; RC Muncie Sunrise, Partner District 6560 
Project location: Gorimedu, Vinayakampatti, Ayothyapattinam and Vellalapatti in Salem District; Poyyundarkottai in Thanjaver District; Dahrmapuran, Mayiladuthural Taluk in Nagappattiman District. All India.
Budget: $52,260.00

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