Telangana, Jan 09, 2021: In a field reserved only for men, two women from Telangana, Babburi Sirisha and Vaankudothu Bharathi would soon become the first female powerline workers in the state. Sirisha and Bharathi will be creating history as the first women to join services in a line of work that requires extreme physical strength to scale poles. This, however, will materialise if the Telangana electricity distribution company expedites the process to hire them.
The desperation to earn a stable government job and sustain themselves pushed these women, who come from economically marginalised communities, to legally challenge the Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Limited (SPDCTL), which has traditionally reserved these posts for men. Twenty-year-old Sirisha from Ganeshpally village in Siddipet district belongs to the Goud community, categorised as Backward Class while 32-year-old Bharathi from Velikatta village in Mahabubabad district is from Lambada community, classified as Scheduled Tribes.
The legal fight against unfair hiring practices
Sirisha and Bharathi started their legal battle nearly a year ago, to give female candidates a fair chance to compete for the post. In 2019, Sirisha, Bharathi and other 32 applicants filed separate petitions in the Telangana High Court, alleging gender discrimination by SPDCTL.
“There was no ‘female’ column in the online form, and obviously we could not apply. We were denied an opportunity,” said Sirisha.
Subsequently, the female aspirants approached the High Court. Following the court intervention in October 2019, the women were allowed to apply for the job offline. While the written examinations were conducted jointly for men and women, the test results of women were withheld, the female candidates claimed. “We had to approach the High Court again, to seek an order directing SPDCTL to publish our results,” said Sirisha.
In the tests, only Sirisha and Bharathi managed to qualify. However, they were not provided with clarity on when they would be given a call for the ultimate pole climbing test. “We had no clue about the final test. We were anxious, but we prepared ourselves and practised pole climbing every day,” Sirisha shared.
Finally, on December 2, 2020, the High Court pulled up the authorities and asked them to conduct the ultimate test within two weeks. On December, the test took place in Yousufguda, Hyderabad. The regular practice paid dividends as both Sirisha and Bharathi comfortably completed the task.
Both the women share that it was their economic condition that drove them to pursue this job that required challenging the unfair system. “I am a mother of two. I have been trying to earn a government job for the past three years. I had applied for every other competitive exam but faced rejection. That is when I thought that I should try for a job that does not have enough competition,” shared Bharathi.
When asked if she was apprehensive about climbing the poles, Bharathi said, “Initially, I was a little hesitant, but nothing could stop me. I went ahead and started climbing poles. Since I do agricultural work, it was not too hard for me. I could easily scale an eight-meter pole within a month.”
Similarly, Sirisha, said, “Immediately after taking the test, I was certain of qualifying for the job. So, I used to skip, jog and climb ropes every day to strengthen my arms. Within a few days, I was able to climb poles. At no point, I had any self-doubt. My goal was to earn a job; I was focussed on that.”
Bharathi and Sirisha now eagerly await for their appointment orders.
Courtesy:The News Minute