Against The Tide

Fatouma Ali Ahmed, Djibouti

June 18, 2021

I am the first female marine pilot in the Port of Djibouti and currently Head the Pilotage Department at the port of Djibouti. I am a mother to 3 year-old twins. Was lucky to be raised by progressive parents who believed in educating their daughter and I am married to a Marine Engineer who is a great support system since he understands the industry.

I was the only female in my class  along with 14 males (a total of 15 Djiboutian) , it was an honor and a responsibility I had to work twice as hard as the men in my class. I obtained a  Bachelor degree in Nautical Science and Certificate Of Competency and sailed as a Officer of the Watch (second deck officer) then I joined the training marine pilot program in the Port of Djibouti.

In joining the industry I had to first study English for the first 6months of my career and successfully graduated in 2012.  As a female in the Maritime Industry one of my greatest challenges has been trying to get sea time. All my male classmates that I attended class with were already at sea doing their sea time with Ethiopian shipping company and at the time the company was not accepting women to board their ships. I spent one and a half year at home waiting for a company that would accept me for sea time ,I was disappointed I almost lost hope , my family and my friend encouraged me to change field and do something else but I kept my faith and finally the Port Authority  found  a company P&O Maritime in Australia  where I was able to complete my sea time.

There has been change and we have a bit more opportunities for women in Africa advancing in their careers. In Djibouti there is still room to support more women to  grow in the Maritime industry.

Raising awareness and mentorship of women in maritime is important and  I have recently joined Mentor loop which is a platform where I can be mentored and interact with other ladies in the industry where I got an opportunity to be matched with Ms  Lulama Mthembu from South Africa who has been a great mentor.

Fatouma Ali Ahmed , Marine Pilot

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