Photos: All-woman railway crew in Rajasthan derails sexist attitudes

An all-woman railway crew at Jaipur’s Gandhinagar railway station chips away at sexist attitudes while breaking new ground in Rajasthan and operating a railway station from the bottom up in roles of superintendents, conductors and even as the station masters.

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST 8 Photos
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Station supervisor Neelam Jatav explains a panel used for tracking trains at Gandhinagar railway station in Jaipur. Jatav said her job had undeniably given her “new wings to fly”, but she still has to deal with men sceptical of a female authority figure. A dauntless all-woman crew is breaking new ground in Rajasthan, operating a railway station inside out, taking up roles of superintendents, conductors and station masters. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

Station supervisor Neelam Jatav explains a panel used for tracking trains at Gandhinagar railway station in Jaipur. Jatav said her job had undeniably given her “new wings to fly”, but she still has to deal with men sceptical of a female authority figure. A dauntless all-woman crew is breaking new ground in Rajasthan, operating a railway station inside out, taking up roles of superintendents, conductors and station masters. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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A view of Gandhinagar station, India’s only interstate train station run entirely by women. India is one of the world’s fastest growing major economies but also has one of the lowest rates of female employment. According to World Bank, fewer women are entering the workforce, particularly in rural areas while two-thirds of those with university degrees are not employed. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

A view of Gandhinagar station, India’s only interstate train station run entirely by women. India is one of the world’s fastest growing major economies but also has one of the lowest rates of female employment. According to World Bank, fewer women are entering the workforce, particularly in rural areas while two-thirds of those with university degrees are not employed. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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Seeing women make the trains run on time and round up troublemakers in smart government uniforms remains a leap too far for many men, suddenly forced to interact with women outside their comfort zone. Jatav and other staff members routinely experience astonished looks from men making excuses to gawk inside their booth as they try to work. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

Seeing women make the trains run on time and round up troublemakers in smart government uniforms remains a leap too far for many men, suddenly forced to interact with women outside their comfort zone. Jatav and other staff members routinely experience astonished looks from men making excuses to gawk inside their booth as they try to work. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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However in statistical terms, these women are an oddity in India, where women contribute just 17 % to national GDP, less than half the global average. The McKinsey Global Institute found in 2015 that India could increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 just by bridging the gender gap. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

However in statistical terms, these women are an oddity in India, where women contribute just 17 % to national GDP, less than half the global average. The McKinsey Global Institute found in 2015 that India could increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 just by bridging the gender gap. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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However, slow inroads are being made. At Gandhinagar, the station is equipped with sanitary napkin vending machines, a huge stride in a country where any discussion of menstruation is off limits. There is also talk of a creche, still a rarity in India, so that these women can bring their children to work. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

However, slow inroads are being made. At Gandhinagar, the station is equipped with sanitary napkin vending machines, a huge stride in a country where any discussion of menstruation is off limits. There is also talk of a creche, still a rarity in India, so that these women can bring their children to work. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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Saumya Mathur, head of the Jaipur railway division, is a mother of two and said she hoped young girls passing through the station would take note of those in charge and “start believing in themselves”. “Just a little push is needed to make a girl feel that she can do what she wishes to do. She can dream of doing things which earlier she would not have dreamt of,” she said. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

Saumya Mathur, head of the Jaipur railway division, is a mother of two and said she hoped young girls passing through the station would take note of those in charge and “start believing in themselves”. “Just a little push is needed to make a girl feel that she can do what she wishes to do. She can dream of doing things which earlier she would not have dreamt of,” she said. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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A staffer prints tickets for passengers at the booking counter. Roughly 7,000 passengers travelling through this major junction come into direct contact with these women managing a major state-run institution from the ground up. While urban subway networks in major Indian cities may have train carriages designated for women, the move is less about empowerment, rather a measure to prevent sexual harassment. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

A staffer prints tickets for passengers at the booking counter. Roughly 7,000 passengers travelling through this major junction come into direct contact with these women managing a major state-run institution from the ground up. While urban subway networks in major Indian cities may have train carriages designated for women, the move is less about empowerment, rather a measure to prevent sexual harassment. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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With most Indian women engaged in domestic work or childcare, social taboos disapproving of women earning their own income and village womenfolk still expected to remain indoors, an all-woman crew ‘manning’ a major junction is bound to make eyes roll. Mahima Dutt Sharma, a staff person working at the station said, “They (men) are not used to seeing women handling such jobs, so I don’t really blame them.” (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

With most Indian women engaged in domestic work or childcare, social taboos disapproving of women earning their own income and village womenfolk still expected to remain indoors, an all-woman crew ‘manning’ a major junction is bound to make eyes roll. Mahima Dutt Sharma, a staff person working at the station said, “They (men) are not used to seeing women handling such jobs, so I don’t really blame them.” (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2018 11:34 AM IST
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