A female first for Bangladeshi cadets

Jarin Chowdhury is the first female cadet from Bangladesh to sail on foreign-flagged ships. She was awarded the Cadet Award at The Mission to Seafarers annual Seafarers’ Awards, presented to the cadet or trainee who has made a significant contribution to seafarers’ welfare at sea or ashore. The judges described Jarin as “an exceptional example of inspiration and achievement for the maritime com- munity especially for female mariners”. Here, she shares her experiences with The Sea.

“For a developing country like Bangladesh, it was taboo for females to sail as seafarers, so it is an honour to be the first Bangladeshi female to serve on a foreign-flagged vessel and represent my country in front of the world.

“During my service as a cadet on a chemical tanker, it was a great experience to work in a multinational environment. My fellow crew members were helpful to me and I learnt a lot and polished my skills. Every day was full of hardships, but I learnt something new, and I felt alive. My entire contract was full of adventure, learning and especially understanding that seafaring is not a job; it’s a way of life.”

Jarin conveys her gratitude to the master and chief engineer of the Oceanic Crimson as well as her fellow seafarers, who assisted in her learning and in developing her skills. She is keen to pay that support forward to help other women coming into the sector. “As the world’s economy is based on seafaring, I want to inspire females to engage in the maritime sector. I strive to develop my skills further and empower women to contribute to the maritime sector of Bangladesh and society as a whole.”

Asked about her ambitions for her future career at sea, Jarin says that she plans to work hard with honesty, but she does share some of her concerns about a career at sea. Job security, onboard safety and the unwillingness of some male seafarers to co-operate with female seafarers are the main points she raises.

That said, she would still encourage women to take up a career at sea. “If they have the hunger for winning the sea, as well as belief in the Almighty, knowledge, capacity and confidence, then why shouldn’t they get the chance to come into this profession and rule over the sea as a Viking?

“While it may be a physically demanding career, with wisdom and courage women can step up and achieve excellence in their workplace.”

Jarin lists two points that could improve the lure of the industry: shorter contract periods and a year-round salary. “This may encourage youngsters who might be planning to join the industry but are uncomfortable with the idea of staying away from their family for several months.”