Women working on railroads: First all-women station in India enters record books

Yamuna rail bridge in Agra, India. Source: khairur rijal pauzi/Shutterstock

WHEN traveling through India, most will make use of the country’s sprawling rail system to get you where you need to go. If you ever find yourself passing through Mumbai, you might just notice something a little different at the city’s Matunga station. 

This Central Line station is the first all-women station in India, a feature that has gained it a spot in the Limca Book of Records.

Seeing a need to empower women in the industry and in India in general, the unique initiative was set up by Central Railway Manager DK Sharma in July 2017, according to new site India.com.

For station manager Mamta Mulkarni, making history is nothing new. In 1992, she became the first woman to be made assistant station manager, and she now heads the team of 41 women at Matunga with great success.

“The idea is to create an environment for women where they can make all decisions of their own for their personal and professional well-being,” a company spokesman said on Monday.

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At a time when the number of women in the workplace is declining for the first time in India’s recent history, initiatives like this one are welcome news. According to the BBC, not only was there a decline in the female labour participation rate, but also a shrinking of the total number of women in the workforce, with nearly 20 million quitting work between 2004 to 2012.

The rise in women’s rights hasn’t only been reflected in the workforce on India’s railways.

The sprawling network is, for the majority of locals and travellers alike, the best way to get around the massive country. But concerns over safety, especially for women, have repeatedly reared their ugly little heads and raised questions about security. That looks set to change in 2018 as the Railway Ministry has shown commitment to tackling the issue.

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“We will take 2018 as a year where we collectively fight against atrocities against women and children, especially human trafficking. That will be a focused effort across Indian railways,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said at a press conference in December.

“As far as security is concerned, we are all thoughtful about it. We are thinking of providing Internet connectivity and CCTV on trains. Discussions are on to provide CCTV on all trains across India,” he said.

As the message of female empowerment continues to take hold the world over, the staff at Matunga are flying the flag for the sisterhood. Keep on being awesome, sisters!