When I applied for the job of a firefighter at the Indian airports, I was not aware that this role was opening up for women for the first time. I could only tell my parents after I cleared the written test. But I never faced any family pressures to back off. Although they were a little unsure – so was I – they told me to give it a try. My challenges were different. It was more to do with my physical endurance as a woman.
I just got about 15 days to train myself to run 100 metres in 20 seconds. When I joined the firefighters’ training team, what made me realise that I was in a male-dominated profession was the fact that I felt drained after the exercises. There were days I would feel down, lonely and unable to cope with the training schedule but I tried to do my best. People often interpret equality as men and women being similar. The two genders have different physiologies. But when provided with equal opportunities, both can give their best, which is all about dedication.
Being in the emergency services and part of the first responders, I never hesitated when asked to be on duty during the lockdown. Fearing for my elderly parents’ health made me even more careful during 2020. The lessons learnt were many. With the defeat of this virus, the world will also be able to break taboos that women still face.