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The sails of empowerment

Women’s education and empowerment are two of the legacy areas of the 'Our World, Our Future' sustainability strategy, which aims to create a better, more equitable world. And one major approach we have taken to fulfilling this goal is to push more women into STEAM fields and help skill them up to enter our industry. And we have launched numerous initiatives to achieve this goal.

One of these initiatives is our partnership with The Maiden Factor. In 1989, Maiden made history with the first ever all-female crew to participate in the Whitbread Round the World Race, a notoriously difficult competition that has yachts go head-to-head in a race around the globe. Maiden then skippered by Tracy Edwards MBE, made history by not only participating, but by placing second. The crew’s monumental achievement was critical in paving the way for women to participate in what was historically a male dominated field, and now serves as an inspiration for women everywhere that they can change what is possible no matter the odds.

Today, we have partnered with The Maiden Factor to take that message around the world once more. Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and member of the Dubai Council, Maiden has now embarked on a World Tour that will promote and encourage education and empowerment for women at each of its ports of call.

The new crew is comprised of women who are passionate about spreading the message. Take First Mate Erica Lush for example: “Outside of sailing I was also involved with education in a rural part of India as well as helping to improve conditions for underserved populations in that area, which of course showed me first-hand the struggles many women face even more than their male counterparts in that part of the world.”

Indeed, for the crew, the message the vessel will be carrying holds a great deal of personal significance. They have all faced discrimination in some form or the other and have often had to fight to earn the respect of their male peers in their chosen fields.“Not having grown up sailing, it was initially hard to get work on sailboats, especially on deck,” Marie Ostrand recalls.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people assume that because you are female, you are better suited for a stewardess or chef position. Even though I had more experience on deck from the time I spent working on boats in Hawai'i, I was still being told that I did not have enough experience to be on deck and would have to start as a stewardess even though I had absolutely zero experience in that department.”

Our goal to empower women globally and draw more into the STEAM and logistics fields is a tall one, and one that will never be solved overnight. Which is why programmes like The Maiden Factor are so critical.

As Tracy Edwards MBE, the legend herself, says: “We cannot do what we do without the support of sponsors and DP World is for us, not just a wonderful sponsor, but also an equal partner in the very real movement for change.  DP World has shown that they ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to equality and the programmes that they have in place to facilitate women into leadership, logistics and other non-traditional roles within their global operations are truly inspirational. Alongside that, Maiden is working with the DP World’s Sustainability Champions in various countries and for us this is a very natural collaboration.  This is a true partnership that really is making positive change happen.”

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