All Women Post Offices: Project Arrow
India’s first all-women post office got under the way on 8th March 2013 in Delhi and was inaugurated by Kapil Sibal at Shastri Bhawan. Overall, there were a thousand and three women employees at the operative level in Delhi circle and the percentage of these women in overall workforce was 14 percent. Following the trail, on 4th February this year, Manipur district was endowed with it’s first such post-office by the Director (posts), Shri Vinod Kumar. These post offices are wo-manned by the postmaster, which is laudable step by the government. “The government is looking into the problems faced by women and this is just a symbolic step,” Sibal said. These post offices are being laid down under the Project Arrow of the Government. They consist of three counters; two of the counters offer Multi-Purpose services such as registration, speed post bookings as well as sale of stamps. Moreover all the counters will have only women employees. I consider this as a step towards better services for women and it also paves way to further empowerment of women as various social schemes are available here such as Sukanya Samridhi Yojna for girl child which will definitely guarantee a bright future for girls. It is expected that a lot of philately material related to women issues will be displayed in the offices for sale and efforts are being made to open more philately accounts for girls. While anyone can avail the post office services, women would probably feel more comfortable discussing a suitable saving scheme with a woman post master. Gold coins can also be purchased here. And besides regular postage and postal stationery, philatelic stamps too are available. “I share a very good rapport with my seniors,” reveals Saroj Varma, the first woman postmaster in an all-women post office in the country. And this, she believes, is because of the mutual trust and confidence. “My senior, also a woman, often comes over to enquire after our welfare and the post office’s functioning.” Binti Choudhury, Senior Superintendent of Post Offices (Central Division), under whose jurisdiction the Shastri Bhawan post office comes, says the post office, “inaugurated symbolically on International Women’s Day has received a very encouraging response.” Now besides two in Delhi, other cities like Mumbai and Jammu too have opened all-women post offices. That women have the capability to take on any responsibility in their jobs is something that Varma believes in and has exhibited too. “Women have come forward to engage in every profession and occupation,” she says, and recounts how she used to see a woman, among the CISF personnel, at duty, even when she was pregnant, in the Union Public Service Commission, when she was working in the post office there prior to her current assignment.
———— ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Nandini Gupta.