January 10th, 2016
Source: lucknowexplorer | Image Source: huffingtonpost
Next time when you see a young, courageous and confident girl controlling the gates of a railway crossing, there is a good chance that it will be Mirza Salma Beg. She is the gateman at Malhaur station’s level crossing, one of the busiest crossing in Lucknow. She is a 22-year-old humanities graduate from Lucknow. Mirza has the unique distinction of being the only woman in India to be in charge of a railway crossing. The Chief Public Information Officer of Northern Railways told HuffPost India that they have no record any other woman working as a ‘gateman’ in India as of now. By convention and by design the railways never foresaw the possibility of a woman becoming a gateman. Many of the documents in the Indian Railways refer to a Gateman as ‘he’. Mirza Salma Beg is the first ‘she’ to take over this ‘he’ job. In doing so, Mirza has completely changed the way people look at the gateman job and perhaps changed the way a patriarchal society looks at a woman itself.
It was not much of a choice for Mirza to take up the job, her father was partially deaf, mother paralysed and sister still in school. She had taken over the job after her father voluntarily retired due to his partial deafness, however, he has trained her little girl on the nuances of manning a railway crossing before he left the job. It was a tough few initial days for Mirza when all the men had the “what is a woman doing here?”, she was even nervous on the muscle power required in the routines of being a gateman. After some initial training from her father and solid backing from her family, Mirza now does her job with ease, grace and confidence. Mirza wakes up early in the morning to prepare food for her parent before she embarks on a 12 hour work schedule where she is not allowed to even take long phone calls. She shoulders the entire family’s well-being besides doing her job with poise. She returns home at 8 PM and still finds time to prepare dinner for everyone at home. Mirza credits her parents and the way she was brought up for her tenacity and willpower. When asked about what is her advice to all the girls and women of Lucknow and beyond, she requests them to not consider themselves as weak instead believe in themselves to face challenges and shoulder responsibilities.
The Logical Indian applauds Mirza Beg for her courage and her tenacity in shouldering responsibilities whilst we wish her all the very best for her future. We trust the story of Mirza Salma Beg will inspire and touch a lot of people across India for the way she is shouldering responsibilities of her family and job, with pride in her heart and smile on her face.