Coolie No. 15: Meet Manju Devi, the first woman coolie at Jaipur Railway Station

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They say that being mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had. Similar is the story of Manju Devi, who after losing her husband gathered strength and took an unconventional job for the sake of her children. Manju, a mother of three teenagers is the FIRST WOMAN COOLIE of North-West Railways at Jaipur Railway Station.

Though it is said that there is no work that a woman can’t do, yet there still exist some professions where you hardly find woman. And porter at Railway Stations is one such profession. Manju by opting for this profession once again proved that there is no duty that women can’t pull off with perfection.

It was ten years back that Manju lost her husband who was a railway porter. He died because of prolonged illness and Manju was left with three children to take care of. Manju’s mother encouraged her take her husband’s job to make a living.

Manju approached the railway authorities and requested them to transfer her deceased husband’s license and badge. Initially the Railway authorities resisted and informed her that there were no women porters and hence it would be difficult for her. But finally they agreed to her request and she was handed over her husband’s badge.

It was not an everyday thing for Manju to step out of her house for work. Talking about her experience she said that it wasn’t easy for her to find a place in the men’s world. She was illiterate. She could not recognize platform and coach number but she was trained for six months by the authorities. After being trained she eventually got the grip of her job.

Clad in Red Kurta and Black Salwar which she has designed on her own, Manju can be seen at Jaipur Railway Station. Her determination to feed and educate her children is the driving force that brings her to the station every morning. 

It was in 2013, that Manju started working as a coolie at Jaipur Railway Station. Devi was among 112 women, who were felicitated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. She was also one among the gathering of 90 women achievers from different backgrounds. She got felicitated by President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 20 this year.

We salute Manju Devi the first women porter for her bold choices and taking the road not taken!

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