Tangkhul woman carpenter demolishes gender stereotype

Youth have immense potential to pursue their calling. Hardships ensure long term professional sustenance, exhorts Penmila, while sharing her story exclusively with Ukhrul Times.

Penmila, a young and dynamic Tangkhul woman carpenter has entered the male dominated profession defying the entrenched gender stereotype. When asked about her struggle, Penmila said, “There is no doubt that carpentry work involves lots of physical strength but I have no qualms about physical exertions. I am used to it.” She further added, ” Every professional has their own share of struggle but what is required is hard work and perseverance. Nothing comes easy in life but if one is sincere and committed nothing can stop us.”

RK Penmila is the daughter of RK Peter, born and raised in East Tusom village, Kamjong District. She stressed that youth have immense potential to pursue their calling. This can be done without always depending on the government and by using available natural resources and human skills.  Currently, she is working at the shop owned and operated by one of her extended family in Imphal. Penmila is looking forward to getting trained more professionally to upgrade her technical and artistic skills by learning and exploring various aspects of their craft. She looks forward to starting her own carpentry business in the future.

Carpentry is still considered to be a profession only for men in Tangkhul society. However, with increasing population and improvement in the standard of living in Manipur, the demands for well designed and furnished pieces is increasing exponentially. As such, skilled carpenters are in high demand who can create beautiful furniture according to the taste of the clientele.

 It is highly laudable that women are entering this profession, besides becoming home makers or getting other desk jobs. Penmila says that her calling came when she was pursuing a course in interior designing. She says, “After clearing my class 12 exam, I completed BA degree from Liberal College, Imphal without any idea of what to pursue in my career due to lack of proper career guidance. I did one year Diploma course in designing at Hamstech Institute of Fashion and Interior Design, Hyderabad. There I faced lots of difficulties as I was the only girl from North-East. But by the grace of my parents and their unstinting support and prayers of the villagers I was able to complete the course in an alien city away from parents and friends.”

Penmila, a strong believer in the dignity of labour, further exerted, “People ask me why I was taking up this male dominated field. I simply told them that there can be no restrictions just because I am a woman. Both men and women can take up any field of work as long as they have the interest and passion to excel in their chosen field. As carpentry is related to my course, I took it up with the support of my parents. To improve my skills and experience, I completed another 1 year Diploma course in Carpentry from Don Bosco Technical School, Shillong.”

Before rushing back to her work with her tools to measure the size of a small stool she is making, Penmila said, “I love carpentry work and room decorations and I am all out for this.”

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