Egypt’s First Female Ship Captain Gets Wrongly Blamed For Suez Canal Blockage

As the Suez Canal blockage issue got resolved after a week-long tiring work, the ripples of it are starting to appear. The first victim of the incident happens to be Egypt’s first female ship captain who has been blamed for the incident.

Marwa Elselehdar was working onboard a ship miles away from the Suez Canal when the incident happened yet she is at the receiving end of it.

The 29-year-old was working as a first mate in command of the Aida IV which is now in Alexandria. Despite this, she had to share the blame for Ever Given’s grounding in the Suez Canal as she happens to be a celebrated feminist figure in an orthodox country like Egypt.

Egypt's first FEMALE ship captain
Image Credits: @marwa.elselehdar – Twitter

Rumour Mill Started To Defame Her

Back in 2015, she became the young and the first female Egyptian captain to cross the newly-expanded Suez Canal. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi himself honoured her for this remarkable feat.

She has become a sensation on Instagram courtesy, her motivational posts and depiction of life at sea which her 30,000 strong family of followers seem to like a lot.

This prompted some to start a rumour mill targeting her as the Suez Canal blockage went viral on the internet.

“I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I’m a successful female in this field or because I’m Egyptian, but I’m not sure,” Marwa told BBC.

Fake News, Fake Social Media Profiles

Fake social media profiles sprang upon her name which pushed the propaganda further, making it reach the headlines of newspapers.

The same newspapers had earlier celebrated her triumph over this male-dominated industry. The rumours spread like wildfire in Egypt, making her concerned about her reputation.

“This fake article was in English so it spread in other countries. I tried so hard to negate what was in the article because it was affecting my reputation and all the efforts I exerted to be where I am now”, she said in an interview given to BBC Arabic.

She revealed the extent of sexism she has faced including her admission into the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport in Alexandria which was only open to men. She was inducted after a legal review initiated by the then-president Hosni Mubarak.

“People in our society still don’t accept the idea of girls working in the sea away from their families for a long time. But when you do what you love, it is not necessary for you to seek the approval of everyone”, she added.

Encountering the Fake News

She encountered the fake news through an Instagram video where she said that she felt encouraged by the response.

“My message to females who want to be in the maritime field is, fight for what you love and not let any negativity affect you,” said Marwa.

Women seafarers are quite rare to find in this industry. In fact, only 2% of world seafarers are women.


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