Working at a toll plaza is usually considered a man’s job. But not anymore. Sukhvir Kaur (22), one of the nine women employees at the Kurali toll plaza, about 30 kilometres from here, is at ease with what she does.
In all, the plaza employs about 35 people.
A commerce graduate, Sukhvir, a resident of Khizrabad village in SAS Nagar district, has been working as a supervisor at the plaza for nearly two years now. For her, women empowerment means challenging the conventional notions of gender and equality.
“Education comes handy while dealing with different people at the toll plaza,” she says.
There have been numerous incidents of people misbehaving with or even assaulting toll plaza staff in different parts of the country. But that does not deter these girls from taking up the job.
These women work from 8am to 4pm daily and manage the plaza through which an average 7,000 vehicles pass daily. Most of them are from the neighbouring villages.
“The company started employing women at this toll plaza on a trial basis. Now, several women are working at seven toll plazas run by our firm,” says Kurali toll plaza manager Bhandu Khade.
Geetika, who works as a toll plaza attendant, says, “This is just like any other job. There is nothing like male bastion now. We are treated equally at work and that is what matters. But women are still a long way to go,” she says.
“Parents of girls willing to work at the plaza come to us enquiring what kind of job we do. We demonstrate to them what we do and they return satisfied,” says Jasvir Kaur, another employee.
About the nature of the job, Bhandu Khade says, “Yes, it is a difficult job, but we ensure their security. In fact, commuters are more courteous dealing with the women staff. We make sure they work only in the day shift.”
“The entire toll plaza is under CCTV surveillance and an alarm button is placed on the desk of every plaza attendant which they can press in case of emergency. But we have not had any instance of misbehaviour,” he says.