Sunday 8 August 2010

Celebrating women in command at sea

Two women have just got leading jobs at sea. I wish we could say "So what?"
But actually it is still a remarkable feat. So congratulations not only to to Johanna Kwedhi (lower pic)and Nora W Tyson (top pic) themselves, but those who've been brave enough to let them succeed, and to those who've supported them.

The unease that's being expressed on the web about Rear Adm. Tyson's appointment shows just how hard a fight it still is for women in power on ships to have their expertise recognised. See

31 years after joining the US Navy,last Thursday(Aug 5)Nora W Tyson assumed command of Carrier Strike Group Two. The strike group consists of aircraft carrier George W Bush, four guided-missile cruisers; Destroyer Squadron 22, which includes six guided-missile destroyers and two frigates, and Carrier Air Wing 8, with eight squadrons of aircraft.

Tyson said "As far as the trailblazing piece, I understand I am the first woman on the job," she said. "But I'm a professional just like my fellow officers are, and my fellow strike group commanders."

Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, said her appointment should send a signal "that there is no limit as to what you can do."

I myself feel 'If only such a claim were true.' And while it's good to see women progress, politically I regret that she is working for such a belligerent country.

By contrast, Johanna Kwedhi is Namibia's first female trawler captain, in charge of 23 crew. See a video of her at

The BBC reports: "Johanna captains the Kanus, one of the largest trawlers operating from Luderitz Harbour... It's her responsibility not only to navigate a coastline infamous for shipwrecks, but to bring in a profitable catch.

Trained by the Namibian Fisheries Institute, she was appointed skipper after serving for eight years as an officer and chief mate under a Spanish captain. Her company now has four more women doing similar training.

"This is a man's world," says Bosun Evalisto Shipo. "Since the beginning, it's been a man's world. If your leadership is not appropriate for the crew, you will not earn their respect."

And Captain Kwedhi has done so - while breaking another barrier too. "We have never seen a black person in charge of a ship," says Evalisto Shipo. "It has always been a Spanish person actually."

What a competent woman she must be, to succeed despite such odds, as well as being the single parent of a 14-month-old son, Innocent.

No comments: