How Egypt’s first female captain was blamed for blocking the Suez Canal – despite being hundreds of miles away at the time
- Marwa Elselehdar was first mate in command of the Aida IV in Alexandria
- Rumors circulated online that she had ensured that the data was ever run aground
- She was the youngest and first woman to captain a ship through the Suez Canal
Egypt’s first female captain says she was blamed for blocking the Suez Canal despite being hundreds of miles away on another ship.
Marwa Elselehdar was first mate at the head of the Aida IV in Alexandria when the Ever Given became trapped in the canal, bringing the main shipping route to a halt.
But online rumors and fake news headlines are spreading the falsehood that she caused the container ship to run aground in Suez.
Egypt’s first female captain, Marwa Elselehdar, says she was blamed for blocking the Suez Canal, despite being on another ship hundreds of miles away.
Edited photos and fake social media accounts have pushed the lies she fears damaged her reputation.
The mangled headline was based on a real Arab News story profiling her success as Egypt’s first female captain.
The 29-year-old doesn’t know who started the rumors, but believes she was targeted because of her gender.
She told it BBC: ‘I was shocked. I felt like I could be the target maybe because I’m a successful woman in this field or because I’m Egyptian, but I’m not sure. ‘
Only 2 percent of the world’s seafarers are women, according to the International Maritime Organization.
Online rumors and fake news headlines spread the falsehood that she caused the container ship to run aground in Suez
Owned by the Egyptian Maritime Safety Authority, the Aida IV is conducting resupply missions to a lighthouse in the Red Sea.
Cadets from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) are also trained on the ship.
Marwa says she was inspired to join the merchant marine after her brother enrolled with AASTMT because she had always had a passion for the sea.
The academy only accepted men at the time, but she still applied, and after a legal assessment by then-president Hosni Mubarak, she was allowed to join.
But Marwa said she endured sexism in college, which she said she had to overcome on her own.
The Ever Given became trapped in the Suez Canal, bringing the main shipping route to a halt
She said, “People in our society still don’t accept the idea that girls work in the sea for long periods of time away from their families.
“But if you do what you love, you don’t have to seek the approval of everyone.”
She rose to the rank of chief mate and was captain of the Aida IV when it became the first ship to cross the Suez Canal after it expanded in 2015, as well as becoming the youngest and first female Egyptian captain to navigate the waterway.
When rumors spread about her involvement in the Ever Given crisis, she said she feared it would undo all the hard work she had put in.
She rose to the rank of chief mate and was captain of the Aida IV when it became the first ship to cross the Suez Canal after it was expanded in 2015.
Despite many negative comments on the articles, she says some responses were encouraging.
She said, “I tried so hard to deny what the article said because it tarnished my reputation and all the efforts I made to be where I am today.”
Marwa will take her final exams next month to achieve the full rank of captain and hopes to continue to inspire women.
In 2017, she was honored by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on the occasion of Egyptian Women’s Day.