HYDERABAD: When it comes to the Hyderabad Metro Rail, naari shakti does not end with its women loco-pilots. The public transport system has many more women working long hours in different capacities to ensure a safe commute for lakhs of Hyderabadis.
A lot of work happens in the background -- ticketing, security checks, punctual frequency, announcements and a lot more. Some of this work is managed solely by women, who have been working with the Hyderabad Metro since its inception. These women have challenged gender stereotypes to rise up to be the breadwinners for their families.
Meet 36-year-old Lakshmi Kavya from Habsiguda. A senior systems analyst, her job is to make sure that all the Automatic Fare Collection systems (AFCs), CCTV, and announcement equipment at all the 56 stations are in top shape. Since her engineering days, she was always discriminated against for having short stature and was told that she would never get hired. “I turned this criticism into inspiration,” Kavya says. For her, getting this job was of paramount importance as she is the sole breadwinner. While her job is tough and demanding, she finds it extremely satisfying.
At the other end of the city, in Dammaiguda, is 34-year-old Soujanya Thalluri. She maintains the AFCs and is the only woman in her department. “I am the only wage-earner in my family of six. Getting all the support personally and professionally helps me face life’s challenges with strength,” she says. But for Soujanya, not everything was smooth sailing. She had to briefly stop her studies due to financial crisis and run a small convenience store, while her siblings carried out menial jobs.
Another inspiring tale is that of Asha Nerella from Uppal, who guards the Operational Control Centre. She used to work as a receptionist, but her employer stopped paying her a few months into the job. Fear and financial insecurity led her to become a security guard, for which she faced a lot of backlash from society.
“No organisation can run safely and securely without guards. Every job, no matter what, has its value,” she believes. She is also inspiring housewives in her vicinity to start working and not tolerate oppression.