When it comes to empowering disadvantaged sections of society and promoting gender equality, Kochi Metro seems to be getting a lot right.
Earlier this month, Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) set a new benchmark in gender inclusivity by recruiting 23 members of the transgender community for a variety of roles from handling the ticket counter to housekeeping.
It then announced the employment of 600 women from the Kudumbasree Mission, a government-backed poverty eradication and women empowerment programme, for the first phase of the metro that will begin operation from Aluva to Palarivattom in June.
Now, the Metro has employed seven women to operate their trains. We can’t keep up, KMR! (In a really, really good way, of course.)
According to Times of India, out of the total 39 individuals appointed by KMR to operate their trains, seven are women. They will each be taking up crucial positions within the system, piloting the trains that are capable of achieving a maximum speed of 90km per hour, on 8-hour shifts,
The only job specifications for the role was that candidates needed to have knowledge of spoken and written Malayalam, thus not barring individuals of any gender to apply for the male-dominated role.
Vandana, one of the seven women selected for the position tells TOI of the recruitment process, “After completing B Tech, I was searching for a job. It was then that I came across job opportunities at the KMRL. Initially, an online test was conducted, which was followed by a psychometric test. Then, there was a medical test. Candidates were selected based on their performances in these tests.”
The state of Kerala is heavily vested in the empowerment and progression of women as well as socially excluded groups in the state. On May 17, 1998 Kudumbashree, the Kerala State Poverty Eradication Mission was launched. The initiative aims to eradicate poverty in the state and holds the belief that the overall empowerment of women is closely linked to economic empowerment.
The state has also been taking numerous measures for the betterment of the transgender community. Since becoming the first Indian state to adopt a transgender policy in 2015, Kerala has since started India’s first transgender residential school, an athletics meet and will soon be hosting the first transgender beauty pageant.
In the struggle for equal rights for both women and transgenders, Kerala’s first metro system is showing its support and setting standards for what a truly inclusive society should look like.