Coolie no. 15 at the Jaipur Railway Station has been kicking patriarchy right where it hurts and has been literally giving us girls so much strength and inspo! Meet Manju Devi. She is a widow, a mother of three teenagers and the first female coolie of North West Railways.
Life hasn’t been easy for Manju and her kids. After losing her husband 10 years ago, she became the sole breadwinner of her family. Manju’s husband was a porter in Jaipur Railway Station and she wanted to take his legacy forward and provide her family with all the amenities. That is when she decided to apply to renew her husband’s porter license.
The authorities were definitely apprehensive about renewing the license as they thought the job role wasn’t apt for a lady. But Manju stood her ground and made sure that it happened as she had to fend for her kids, who were still young and needed her to play the role of both a Mother and a Father.
Everyday Manju dresses in a red kurta and white salwar, and leaves for work. She was quoted saying that she weighed 30 kilos and so did the luggage that she carried, but nothing came close to the burden of fending to three children. She draws strength from her children and has become another example of how a mother’s love knows no bounds.
Manju Devi was felicitated by the Ministry of Women and Children along with other 112 women who made a difference in the society with their bravery and work. She has been working multiple tiring shifts as a coolie and proving it to the world that it takes sheer strength and will power to take a step like this.
Rajasthan in general is known for it’s strong support towards the idea of ‘Purdah‘ and here is a lady who works a job which is meant to be only for men and she does it with so much grace and dignity that all you want to do is admire her for it!