BANGLADESHI WOMEN SET TO ‘CONQUER THE SEA’
Breaking another gender barrier, 13 women are appointed to serve with the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation’s (BSC) fleet.
Women throughout Bangladesh gained a symbolic victory September 20th when 13 female cadets formally joined the merchant navy.
The achievement represents another step forward for Bangladeshi women since the 1980s, when they started leaving their homes in large numbers to take active roles in the country’s economic development.
“It’s indeed a great day for us. Our women drive carsand serve as pilots. Now they will conquer the sea,” Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan told Khabar South Asia after handing appointment letters to the women during a ceremony at the Bangladesh Marine Academy in Chittagong.
New merchant navy member Beauty Akhter is maintaining a family tradition with her appointment.
“Two of my male relatives are in the merchant navy and I got interested in the profession after I heard exciting stories about life at sea,” she told Khabar.
According to the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), though 1.37 million people work on merchant marine vessels worldwide, only 2,500 of these sailors are women.
“They are the pioneers in the history of our academy who will serve as encouragement to other women to join the merchant navy,” Marine Academy Commandant Sajid Hossain said.
The state-run Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) offered jobs to the 13 women after no private entities in the Bangladesh Oceangoing Ship Owners Association showed interest in hiring the female sailors.
Rear Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed, chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority, also announced scholarships for the 13.
“It’s indeed an epoch-making event and we are very proud to be part of it,” Commodore Moksumul Kader, the BSC’s managing director, told Khabar.
Rasheda Chowdhury, chief of the non-governmental organisation Ganashakhrata Ovijan (Campaign for Mass Literacy), told Khabar: “It is heartening to see that, despite all the odds, Bangladesh has created the right environment for women empowerment , and this is a big achievement for a Muslim-majority nation, where women are encouraged to stay indoors.”
OCTOBER 10, 2014