28 November 2013 | by Shruti Kohli | NEW DELHI
“It was like stepping into the men’s zone. And that’s what made this job even more adventurous for me!” declares Divya Bhaskar* a Delhi Metro driver.
Divya belongs to Dehradun and chose this career at the behest of her late father. She had always dreamt of joining the defence forces. The uniform lured her. But when she expressed her intentions to her family, they refused point blank “because defence forces are not good for girls.” However, uniform she did get! And she feels as proud as she would have been in the camouflage uniform.
Another reason why she was excited about driving a tube was because she had always wondered keeps women away from these technical jobs. “People look at me with added respect. My relatives and neighbours tell their children to be like me. Each time I go home, they say “lo aa gaya hamara beta (here comes our son),” says Divya with a twinkle in her eye. Moreover, her lawyer fiancé is all set to shift to Delhi after marriage just because he doesn’t want her to sacrifice her career for marriage. Presently, he practices in Dehradun.
Delhi Metro has about 60 female drivers on various lines. “We had hired two female drivers in the first phase which was when the Delhi Metro was flagged off in the year 2002, “says Anuj Dayal, GM, Corporate Communications, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The two very first female train operators have been promoted to various other jobs over the past decade. The average age of a train operator at DMRC is between 25 and 28 years.
Many women joining the organization are excited about the train operator’s job. A woman in the driver’s cab immediately attracts attention because technical jobs are usually associated with men. Prachi Bhargava*, another tube operator who joined the organization along with Divya three years back, tells The Petticoat Journal that the best compliment she has ever got is when a random female passenger told her, “I wish my daughter could be like you.” Prachi, who drives the Delhi Metro with much pride, wears the pride on her sleeve.
The train she took while on her way to take the examination for recruitment to DMRC, was driven by a woman. “I felt really nice seeing a woman in the driver’s cabin and I, briefly, and very casually, wished to be in that cabin someday,” she narrates.
Divya says it may have been about the security that a government job brings with it. But actually it was about being something different. Now I know that it’s different than any other government job. It’s really exciting and the kind of respect the uniform brings is motivating, she says.
Prachi is quick to add here, “Our uniform exudes authority. No one would dare make passes when we walk through crowds at platforms and even outside the DMRC premises.”
Prachi, who has been married for a year now, has a routine like any other working woman. She gets up at 5am in the morning, sweeps and mops the house, cooks breakfast and lunch for the family, and then leaves. She lives with her husband, and parents-in-law. She is home by 3:30pm and after an hour long siesta, gets back to the kitchen beginning with the evening tea and then dinner. It will be different once she has children. But she announces very confidently, “I don’t think much will change because my mother-in-law is very nice. She has said already that she will take care of the children while I can continue with my work as usual.”
These women’s confidence and the support from their families is a remark on the changing times. We are entering another era, an era where gender discrimination will be history.
*Names of train operators changed in keeping with the DMRC rules which discourage naming the staff (except corporate communications) in news media.
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