Why Agartala Must Ensure Equity for Women in Public Spaces

By Maria Debbarma

May 10, 2024

Amidst the chaos of the petrol crisis gripping Agartala, I found myself thrust into a disheartening experience that exposed the stark reality of gender discrimination in public spaces. The incident unfolded at a petrol pump in Ganaraj Chowmuhani, where the scarcity of fuel was compounded by the callous disregard for women’s rights.

As I steered through the long queues of predominantly male customers, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of being out of place.

Upon requesting a separate line for female customers, I was curtly informed that such a provision was unnecessary, as “fake female scooter drivers” had supposedly been exploiting the system. To add insult to injury, I was told in a dismissive tone that if I, as a female, could ride a scooter like a male, then I should have no qualms about standing in line alongside male customers. Their dismissive remarks and their refusal to acknowledge the validity of my concerns only served to deepen my sense of frustration and indignation.

What struck me most was the insidious nature of the discrimination I faced. It wasn’t just about being forced to wait in line with male customers; it was about being made to feel inferior, unworthy of basic respect and consideration. The manager’s taunts about my ability to ride a scooter, as if my gender dictated my competence, cut deep and reinforced harmful stereotypes that have no place in a modern, progressive society.

My experience at the petrol pump was a stark reminder that the fight for gender equality is far from over. In a city like Agartala, where traditional gender roles and norms still hold sway, it is imperative that we take proactive steps to ensure equity for women in public spaces. This means more than just token gestures; it requires a fundamental shift in attitudes and behaviours, starting from the grassroots level.

Agartala must prioritize initiatives that promote inclusivity and respect for women, whether it’s through implementing separate queues at petrol pumps or ensuring safe and accessible public transportation. By creating environments where women feel valued and empowered, we can pave the way for a more just and equitable society for all.

My hope is that by sharing my personal experience, we can ignite a broader conversation about the urgent need for gender equity in Agartala and beyond. It’s time to challenge the status quo, dismantle outdated stereotypes, and build a future where every individual, regardless of gender, can thrive in public spaces without fear of discrimination or prejudice.

Maria Debbarma serves as an Assistant Professor in Environmental Science at MBB College, Agartala.

Public Disclaimer: The experiences, views, and opinions shared by Maria Debbarma in this article are her own and do not necessarily represent the official stance of Yakhrai.

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