No full stops for Jharkhand women


Ranchi : More and more women in Jharkhand are daring to look beyond traditions and have taken up professions generally perceived as male bastions – like petrol pump workers and auto mechanics. Many have also come up with innovative ideas to tide over crises like food shortage.

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Sunita Thapa, along with seven other women, works at a petrol pump in Doranda area of Ranchi. None of them has any major complaint and they enthusiastically fill petrol and diesel in motorbikes and four-wheelers.

"I have never faced any problem. Duty is duty and we fulfil our duty without any hesitation and try to do it with perfection," Sunita told IANS.

In Ranchi, over two dozen women constables have been deployed to control traffic.

"I enjoy my job of controlling traffic. People have to abide by my signals and anyone who violates rules is punished," said Anita Devi, a constable.

The Jharkhand police have also raised a separate women's battalion, which is currently training in Bokaro district.

A group of eight women in Sirsi village in Hazaribagh district thought of a radically different career – they underwent training to repair motorbikes and set up their own auto workshop earlier this year.

Kalawati Devi and her friends, however, still face the disadvantage of being women mechanics. Not many people are ready to avail of their services to get their vehicles fixed.

"Not many come to us to get their bikes repaired. We even learnt how to drive mobikes but people still prefer to go to town to get them fixed," said Kalawati, 40, whose husband is a rickshaw puller.

But they have not given up hope and now want to serve customers in the town.

"We are planning to open a workshop in Hazaribagh town also," she added.

Similarly, women of Seelam village in Gumla district took it upon themselves to become self-reliant. With the help of Mahila Mandal, a self-help group, the women started poultry farming in 2000. Now many men are also employed by the initiative, which villagers say has changed the quality of their lives.

"Poultry farming has changed our lives tremendously. We are in a position to send our children to school and give them good education. Our families lead good lives," said Sunita Devi, a member of Mahila Mandal.

In Jamshedpur, women of several villages came together and exhibited exemplary management skills by coming up with an innovative idea to avoid food shortage, especially during droughts.

With their sheer grit, joint efforts and aid from an NGO, they set up a common granary system to store additional food grains for future needs.

"We store the surplus food grains that are given to families in times of need," said Dhaniya Devi of Laydih village.

Added Sonari Devi of Huruumbil village: "Drought and food shortages are common here. During drought, the surplus grains are distributed among the needy families. But the grains have to be returned to the granary once the crisis is over so that some other family can use it in need."

Women are entirely in charge of the granary and maintain records too.

"Women of Jharkhand have proved their mettle in diverse fields. They have the potential and just need a little push from the government or NGOs," said Vasvi, a social worker here.