Two women Reba Devi and Pronita Deka were invited to the International Women’s Day celebrations at CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology in Jorhat on Thursday regaled the audience with anecdotes.
Both of them at the helm of affairs in Assam’s coveted oil industry were also ace sports persons in their time. Chief Guest Reba Devi, Executive Director, Centre for Excellence in Energy, Oil India Limited had represented the state in badminton and Guest of Honor Pronita Deka, Chief Manager, (HR), Numaligarh Refinery Limited, was a footballer.
Reba Devi, speaking about her experience as the first woman to be appointed in operations in 1983 in OIL, said that for the first 10 days or so she sat twiddling her thumbs as her boss was hesitant to send her to drilling operations in the sites as this entailed working at all hours.
“I had to force them to do so and prove that I was as good as my male counterparts. The first time was at 2 o clock in the night and the driver of the car which picked me up had to take me into the deep dacoit infested jungles of Jorajaan, the site of the well. It became imperative to establish gender equality as I would be responsible for subsequent recruitment of women into OIL’s field operations,” she said.
She later was given the charge of 20 oil wells and went on to head drilling ops. “Nothing is impossible for a woman. One should do things differently.
She asked the women in the gathering not to pull each other down but to encourage and support the potential of all women when they achieved something some thing.”
She also stated that her mother and mother in law were the two women in her life to whom she attributed her success. The former had always encouraged her to be independent and do things alone and the latter had supported her to go on working when she was finding it difficult to balance home and work.
Pronita Deka in her speech directed mainly at the women employees of NEIST and the 20 women of a self help group of Golaghat district said that they should come out of their stereotypical roles and think and take decisions for themselves and their children.
“The only thing that my father wanted was that I should get married as soon as possible and his responsibility towards me would be over. I decided that this is not what I wanted and till today remain unmarried,”she declared.
“Education, independence and economic empowerment are a must if a woman wanted status and her rightful place in Society. To every question asked of a woman, the stock reply should not be Jayantae janae (Jayanta knows) pushing all the decision making on to one’s husband,” she said.
Deka said that getting a well paid job required high educational qualifications, which is not possible for all women.
The best way to gain economic empowerment was through self employment and for this one needed to hone skills like, persevere, be resilient, manage money, have business acumen and grab opportunities. The other things are loans from Nabard or other banks and skill training from MSME schemes or institutes like NEIST.
Deka narrated inspiring stories of two woman, Patricia of Tamil Nadu and Ilamoni Bora of Jagibhakat village in Morgan district, both having emerged from distressed situations and now entrepreneurs earning in chores and lakhs.
Senior Research Fellow (DST-INSPIRE) at NEIST Gitashree Darabdhara gave a presentation in which she showed how male scientists including CV Raman had shown bias towards women scientists.
She also spoke about her work on graphene, one of the hardest substances on earth and it’s uses, and her interaction with Nobel laureates at the Hope meeting in Japan last year.
Director of the Institute D Ramaiah, in reference to women said that society should be all inclusive and that parity and equality should begin at the individual level, in the houses, institutes, society and state.
In the technical session held in the afternoon the self help group were trained in how to extract fibre from banana stems by resource person Tridip Goswami of the Cellulose Pulp and Paper division of NEIST.
Prizes for the debate and quiz competitions were also given away to the winners.