- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Female sailors make waves in male dominated field
- Date: 1st July 2011
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN RUFUS LEKALA, HARBOUR MASTER SAYING: "This is a very very male-dominated career but we had to break the ice and this country must proud itself they, we have broken the ice, we didn't communicate our successes as such. You would notice when you are going out with pilot Dube that we are a very very trend setting nation and company as Transnet itself." VEHICLES BEING LOADED ONTO SEMI TRAILER CAR CARRIER
- Embargoed: 16th July 2011 13:00
- Location: South Africa, South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Conflict,Defence / Military,People
- Reuters ID: LVA6ASFFOWXNZKF2UX977B7V8AYY
- Story Text: Guiding a cape sized container ship to it's berth in the Durban Harbour is no easy task but to Gugu Dube and her fellow female sailors, this has now become second nature.
Dube, a mother of one who hails from Kwa Mashu, a township in KwaZulu-Natal, was among 16 women who landed a marine job at the Port of Durban, the busiest on the African continent and the biggest in terms of container capacity.
The Port of Durban is South Africa's main general cargo and container port.
Each year it handles 31.4 million tones of cargo worth more than R50 billion (7.4 billion US dollars).
To qualify as a sailor, Dube had to undergo a rigorous one year training program, where she had to constantly prove herself.
"On my first ship it was very difficult, trying to learn what is what. People sometimes on board on the ship are not that friendly, they are not willing to help you so you have to find things for yourself. That was the most difficult part. When you get to a new place you think that people are going to welcome you and show me some stuff but at sea it is not like that, you find out things for yourself especially if you are a female its even worse," Dube recalls.
Dube's and her fellow female sailors had to face many obstacles and resistance in the male dominated field.
Dube says her job takes her places she would never have had a chance to visit before and encourages more young women to get into it and experience the freedom.
"It is a great career to follow, being independent, being out there at sea with taking the ship in. It is a very nice career to do, going places, I mean some of you South Africans mostly don't have money to travel, you get that kind of opportunity. If you are someone who likes to travel this is a career for you and if you like being independent and making decisions this is your career," she said.
Dube's eagerness to learn and thrive has impressed her male colleagues.
"People were reluctant at first, especially the more senior guys. They felt that the ladies are coming there... they felt it was a man's job and so they were quite not for it, they were quite against it in the beginning but the ladies proved themselves, proved their worth and now they are accepted in the industry as you can see," said Justin Edans, Dube's colleague.
Chief Harbour Master Rufus Lekala says he hopes having women on-board in such a key industry would encourage gender equality through out the country.
"This is a very very male-dominated career but we had to break the ice and this country must proud itself they, we have broken the ice, we didn't communicate our successes as such. You would notice when you are going out with pilot Dube that we are a very very trend setting nation and company as Transnet itself," he said.
State owned corporation Transnet is responsible for managing and governing South Africa's seven major sea ports which also includes Durban sea port.
According to Lekala, the corporation has actively put in place programs to empower women seeking to venture into the maritime field.
The port of Durban employs around 6000 people and approximately 30,000 people are directly dependent upon the port and its activities.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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