Porter No 15: Life Of North West Railways' First Woman Coolie

Manju Devi has been the sole breadwinner for her three teenage children. She lost her husband Mahadev, 10 years ago.

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Porter No 15: Life Of North West Railways' First Woman Coolie

Manju Devi took to the demanding task of hauling luggage at the Jaipur Railway Station (PTI)


Jaipur:  Manju Devi stands tall in her fraternity, being the first woman porter of the North-West Railways, in a profession that is considered to be male dominated.

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, Ms 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.
 
manju devi jaipur woman porter pti

Manju Devi hauls luggage of a passenger inside a train compartment, at the railway station in Jaipur, on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Manju stands tall in her fraternity, being the first woman coolie (porter) of North Western Railway (PTI)

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.
 
manju devi jaipur woman porter pti

Railway porter Manju Devi shares a light moment with her children, at their home in Jaipur, on Sunday, May 20, 2018. She is the sole breadwinner for her family of three teenagers (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 devi jaipur woman porter pti

Porter Manju Devi ferries luggage across the tracks at a railway station in Jaipur, on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Being a porter is physically demanding, but with three teenagers to take care of, Manju Devi takes on everyday with great grit and determination (PTI)

Ms Devi 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.
 
manju devi jaipur woman porter pti

Manju Devi looks on as she shares a relaxed moment with her male colleagues, in Jaipur, on Sunday, May 20, 2018 (PTI)

"I weighed 30 kgs and the passengers' luggage was also 30 kgs but it was nowhere to the burden of feeding three children," Ms Devi narrates in jest.

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