Meet This Woman Coolie Breaking New Ground in Rajasthan
Authorities initially told her there were no women porters and hence it would be difficult for her. But she persisted and was eventually given the badge number.
Manju Devi looks on as she shares a relaxed moment with her male colleagues in Jaipur. (PTI Photo/Arun Sharma)
Jaipur: Manju Devi stands tall in her fraternity, being the first woman porter of the North-West Railways, in a profession that is considered a male bastion. She has been the sole breadwinner for her three teenage children. She lost her husband 10 years ago.
After overcoming family disputes and psychological hurdles and encouraged by her mother Mohini, Devi acquired her deceased husband Mahadev's porter license no. 15 and took to the demanding task of hauling luggage of passengers at the Jaipur Railway Station.
Authorities initially told her there were no women porters and hence it would be difficult for her. But she persisted and eventually given the badge number, she had said.
Porter Manju Devi hauls luggage of a passenger inside a train compartment in Jaipur. (Photo: Arun Sharma/PTI)
It took her a while to get a grasp of the realities of her job and the challenge included designing her own uniform. Now, clad in a red kurta and white salwar, she sets out every day to work in multiple shifts, to make ends meet for her family.
Manju was among 112 women who were felicitated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, besides former beauty queens -- Aishwarya Rai and Nicole Faria -- mountaineer Bachendri Pal, Anshu Jamsenpa, missile woman Tessy Thomas and private detective Rajani Pandit.
"I weighed 30 kgs and the passengers' luggage was also 30 kgs but it was nowhere to the burden of feeding three children," Devi narrates in jest.
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