When intellectuals, activists and politicians are rolling their heads for gender equality and women empowerment, when law makers are in dilemma to frame legislations about protection of women’s right, a 49(forty-nine) years old lady picks up a job, which the society consider it as men’s job and now become an inspiration to many women, as she successfully showed the society that there is nothing such that a woman cannot do that a man can do.
She is none other than Ningthoujam Ongbi Anita Devi, wife of N.Dilip of Lamding Elangbam Leikai in Thoubal district. Mother of a son and daughter, wife of an ex-school teacher presently running a small shop, Anita is today a role model who is much talked about in Thoubal town of Manipur.
Anita is the first lady to pick up the job of E-Rickshaw driver to support her family. After seeing her courage, she now became a role model for all women of not only in her area but entire Manipur. Realizing her spirit people from all wakes of life today has started supporting her.
This reporter who happened to take a ride in her cozy E-Rickshaw was thrilled when Anita said that it was her love for the environment and her zeal to serve the people that she had chosen the job of driving E-Rickshaw.
“I want to serve people and make my place green free from pollution, that is why I picked up this job”, Anita said when asked why she chose the job.
This journalist expected a reply based on gender equality but to her she seems not bothered about that. All she believes is that there is no barrier between man and woman when it comes to work. “Women can also take up this kind of job to show the society that we are not inferior to male folk”, Anita said.
It was a company called “RaDiant Group” which supported in fulfilling her dream. When she started thinking about picking up a job, it was the “RaDiant Group” that provided her loan for buying the E-Rickshaw. Today Anita is a economically free woman. She earned Rs. 600 to Rs. 700 a day. Every day she pay Rs. 300/- to the “RaDiant Group” and could save around Rs. 400 a day to support her family. People from ThoubaI, Wangjing, Khongjom, Wangbal etc. encourage her so much that they waited to ride her E-rickshaw no matter how late are they.
What surprised this journalist is that Madam Anita not only supports her family with the fare she earns from her passengers but she extended helping hand to poor aged people who cannot afford a motor ride. Today, having more confidence, Anita want to encourage more women to join her. She wants to form an association of women E-Rickshaw drivers in the coming days.
“As of now I don’t have a parking as Association members of other passenger taxi don’t allow us to park and I wish more women take up this job and together we can form an association to claim our right to park somewhere at Thoubal”, a confident Anita said.
“As of now local vendor women use to contact me through cell phone for reservation of my E-Rickshaw but I hope we could have a parking to get passengers at time of their needs”, added.
Anita also plans for an organised E-Rickshaw Service run by women only. She dreams of opening a call center so that anybody can call them anytime in need of service.
When asked if she has any demand to the government, the lady wish a charging point be opened at some convenient area within the market periphery. She also wants the authority to relax the restrictions imposed to the movement of the vehicle at some places in Thoubal district.
Rabi Takhellambam, a resident of Kairembikhok Mayai Leikai, ThoubaI District has been in the field of Journalism for more than 10 years. Rabi, is well known for his reporting from Thoubal side and Indo-Myanmar border. Rabi is also a member of All Manipur Working Journalist Union, the parent body of Journalist Union in Manipur. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]