Article

First female marine pilot beats the tide in Djibouti


published on 21 May 2021 136

Sea transport has for many years been a reserve of men with few women getting the opportunity, especially in most African countries. But for Fatouma Ali Ahmed, women can equally steer ships just as men can do.

Fatouma is the first female marine pilot in the port of Djibouti and currently heads the Pilotage Department in the same port. According to her testimony posted on LinkedIn, Fatouma, a mother of 3-year-old twins joined the marine industry in 2012.

But she had to study English for six months first before starting her formal training as a marine pilot. Despite concluding her studies, Fatouma still needed a practical experience at sea but could not get the chance in her country or neighbouring Ethiopia.

“As a female in the Maritime Industry one of my greatest challenges has been trying to get sea time,” Fatouma said. “All my male classmates that I attended class with were already at sea doing their sea time with the Ethiopian shipping company and at the time the company was not accepting woman onboard their ships.”

Her chance would finally come when the Djibouti port authority got her a chance at P&O Maritime in Australia, ‘where I was able to complete my sea time.’

Fatouma attributes her success to ‘progressive parents who believed in educating their daughter’. She adds that she is married to a marine engineer ‘who is a great support system since he understands the industry.’
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