Marwa Elselehdar Wiki – Marwa Elselehdar Bio
Marwa Elselehdar, Egypt’s first female ship captain, says she was blamed for blocking the Suez Canal despite being on a different ship hundreds of miles away.
Elselehdar was working as a first mate in command of the Aida IV in Alexandria when the Ever Given became wedged in the canal, bringing the major shipping route to a halt.
But online rumors and fake news headlines spread the falsehood that she had caused the container ship to run aground in Suez.
She is 29 years old.
Marwa Elselehdar Was Blamed for Suez Canal Blockage
Edited photos and fake social media accounts pushed the lies, which she fears have damaged her reputation.
The doctored headline was based on a true story by Arab News profiling her success as Egypt’s first female captain.
The 29-year-old does not know who started the rumors but believes she was targeted because of her gender.
She told the BBC: ‘I was shocked. 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.’
Women only make up two percent of the world’s seafarers, according to the International Maritime Organisation.
The Aida IV is owned by Egypt’s maritime safety authority and runs supply 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 navy after her brother enrolled at AASTMT, having always had a passion for the sea.
The academy only accepted men at the time, but she still applied, and after a legal review by then-president Hosni Mubarak, she was granted permission to join.
But Marwa said she endured sexism during her studies which she said she had to overcome alone.
When the rumors spread about her involvement in the Ever Given crisis, she said she feared it would undo all the hard work she has put in.
She said: ‘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.’
Despite the many negative comments on the articles, she says some of the responses were encouraging.
She said: ‘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 rose to the rank of the first mate. She captained the Aida IV when it became the first vessel to cross the Suez Canal after it was expanded in 2015, also becoming the youngest and first female Egyptian captain to navigate the waterway.