The captain was miles away when the news broke that the large cargo ship had got stuck in the Suez Canal. Still, she was blamed for the incident on social media.
When the giant cargo ship “Ever Given” got stuck in the Suez Canal, Egypt’s first female captain, Marwa Elselehdar (29), was blamed, writes the BBC.
The 29-year-old himself was miles away. She was on the ship “Aida IV” off Alexandria in Egypt when she discovered the rumors that she was the one who had stuck the ship in the canal.
“I was shocked,” Elselehdar told the BBC.
BACKGROUND: Container ships blocked the Suez Canal – several hundred boats are stuck
The rumors are said to have started when a manipulated image with a fake news headline began to spread. The photo appeared to be from an article published by Arab News, which claimed that the young captain was involved in the incident.
In a short time, it was shared by thousands on both Twitter and Facebook.
Simple goal in a male-dominated profession
In addition to the manipulated image, several fake Twitter profiles were also created under Elselehdar’s name. There, too, it was claimed that she was to blame for the incident.
The 29-year-old tells the BBC that she still does not know who first started the rumors. However, she believes it has something to do with her status as a successful female captain, in an environment that has long been dominated by men. Figures from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) women make up two percent of the world’s seafarers.
– I think I may have been an easy target because I am both successful and a woman in this profession, or because I am Egyptian, but I do not know for sure, she says.
“Ever Given” has been completely torn down – the Suez Canal opens
First female captain in Egypt
When Elselehdar first applied to the Arab Academy of Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), women were initially not allowed to apply. However, then-President Hosni Mubarak granted the 29-year-old’s request for captaincy training.
Thus, Elselehdar became the first female Egyptian to leave the academy as captain, writes the BBC.
“People in the community here still do not accept the idea that girls work at sea and are away from home and family for a long time,” says the captain.
Already as a student, Elselehdar got to know the challenges as a woman in a historically male-dominated environment.
– It was only older men with a different mentality, so it was challenging to find like-minded people, she tells the channel.
– It was difficult to stand in it all alone without letting it affect my mental health.
After Elselehdar graduated, she became the first mate on the boat “Aida IV”. She thus became the first and youngest Egyptian woman to carry the boat through the Suez Canal in 2015.
On Women’s Day in 2017, she was honored by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for leading the way as a female captain.
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