“I used to be shocked,” Elselehdar instructed the BBC. “I felt that I is perhaps focused possibly as a result of I’m a profitable feminine on this discipline or as a result of I’m Egyptian, however I’m undecided.”
Elselehdar, 29, was the primary lady to enroll within the Arab Academy for Science, Expertise and Maritime Transport and was solely ready to take action after getting particular permission from former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Her 1,200 classmates have been male — they usually tended to be “older males with completely different mentalities,” she instructed the BBC. “Individuals in our society nonetheless don’t settle for the thought of women working within the sea away from their households for a very long time.”
After she graduated, Elselehdar started working for the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Security on board a vessel that delivers provides to a distant lighthouse within the Pink Sea, in accordance with Egypt As we speak. When Egypt completed its growth of the Suez Canal in 2015, she helped lead the celebratory procession, and have become the first Egyptian lady to cross the canal because the captain of a ship.
On March 22, the day earlier than the Ever Given grew to become lodged sideways within the canal throughout a mud storm, the Arab Information revealed a glowing profile of Elselehdar and her success as one of many solely girls in a male-dominated discipline. Anti-feminist trolls subsequently tried to hyperlink her to the catastrophe, claiming it was proof of what would occur if girls have been allowed to captain ships, in accordance with the outlet.
“Frankly, once I learn the information, I used to be upset, as a result of I labored actually arduous to achieve the place I’ve reached, and anybody who works on this discipline is aware of how a lot effort an individual has made over time to achieve this rank,” Elselehdar mentioned in a video that she posted to her Instagram account. “One has to spend a few years at sea, finding out and taking exams earlier than reaching this degree.”
Elselehdar additionally instructed Egyptian newspaper Youm7 that pretend Twitter accounts had been created along with her identify and photograph, attracting roughly 20,000 followers within the span of only a few hours.
Feminine captains are a rarity even outdoors Egypt. In response to the Worldwide Maritime Affiliation, solely 2 p.c of all seafarers worldwide are girls — and the overwhelming majority work on cruise ships.