First batch of female sea captains graduate from MARAD

DPI, GUYANA, Saturday, September 30, 2017

Four female cadet officers graduated as sea captains on Friday evening, at the Umana Yana, Kingston. The officers attached to the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) are the first batch of women in history to achieve this status in Guyana since the department was established in 1998.

The Department of Public Information spoke with three of the four ladies, Vanessa Merchant, Abiola Hickson and Sabita Sookdeo who expressed much satisfaction of their accomplishment.

Vanessa Merchant.

Being a Captain is widely seen as a job that is designed specifically for men. However, cadet officer Merchant said she is happy that a barrier has finally been broken. Merchant said that the five-year journey was very demanding.

She explained that “it was a lot of challenges and today we stand here very proud to come through successful and we would like to encourage others to join this profession because there are a lot of opportunities here”. The proud captain is encouraging other women to take up the challenge and take up unconventional roles.

Also sharing her experience, Sookdeo said over the five years she has invested much to achieve the status of Captain today. She said that at the beginning it was very challenging. “It is a man’s job and it’s like we had to work double time to get to this position because there was a lot of fighting and a lot of people thinking that people are not supposed to be here so we had a lot of work during these five years”, she explained

However, the proud captain stated that “this is why we could be here as the first set of females, we tried something different and made a change because the thing is with sea fares, Guyana does not have female officers or deckhands so we decided to make a change for Guyana”.

For Hinckson, the journey was no different, she remarked: “I would not lie, it is not an easy journey, we had ups and downs and it was hard, a lot of training, a lot of hard work but we have accomplished it and we are here today to talk about it.”

The achievement by these young women is an indication that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. Today, more and more women are taking up positions in non-traditional fields; as the quote goes  “the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits”.


By: Isaiah Braithwaite

Abiola Hickson.

Sabita Sookdeo.



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