Eldine Chilembo is a Maritime professional advocating for women employment and promotion in the transportation sector. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow, a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African leaders Initiative. She is also a Global Youth Ambassador for A WORLD AT SCHOOL and an ASHOKA Changemakers graduate.



I have a teenage sister whom I used to worry a lot about. Would she grow up burdened with the pursuit of superficial beauty? Will she learn to love her own skin, her hair and body? It delights me to see that more African women are embracing their natural hair, their dark skin and complimenting each other more. That is my idea of beauty. Diversity is beautiful, let’s embrace it!


I believe that empowering women is all about giving them a chance to rise up to excellence. I want to urge us move away from the idea that women empowerment movements are all about demanding opportunities, and highlight that the modern day feminist is looking to seize available opportunities and create them when necessary.


The struggles for women’s rights have been long running. We have made so many breakthroughs in the recent years and will continue to hope for more progress. The United Nations SDGs are an example of that hope. There focus on the vision that so many women continue to fight for. It is through this very hope that Phenomenal African Women will continue to rise!


The Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF), which began in 2014, brings young leaders to the United States each year for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries. The program goals include building a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.

The MWF has exceeded my expectations and allowed me to set new objectives, to forge new goals and to define new parameters. It forced me out of my comfort zone and into a space I never knew was available to me. I went into the fellowship focused on working on my interests in advancing women in maritime issues. After the fellowship, my focus advanced towards influencing policies that encourage greater inclusion and development of women, having identified deficiencies within the system by engaging actively with Women in Maritime Angola to advocate for policy formulation.


Rosa Sobrinho / Maria Helena Samuel / Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore

I look up to all 3 of these women for their passion for women in Transport, for their desire to mentor and sponsor the younger generation and for their ability to stay humble in spite of their high status and influence.

Words on Marble


In 5 years, I want to strengthen employment conditions for women within the transport sector through training methodologies, best practices and policy options that enhance opportunities and mitigate barriers facing women in transportation.


I would like to find solutions on how I can promote gender equality, equity and empower women in shipping in an effort to increase the global number of female seafarers from 2.5%. My goal is to encourage their contribution in areas like maritime security, trade and transportation and marine sustainability, promote women’s economic self-reliance and access to maritime training and technology. I want to focus on how we can create partnerships with men towards the common goal of gender equality.


I am happiest when buying books. I can spend hours in a book store thinking of the books I need to read! In retrospect, I should probably read every book in my library before buying more…

I also love to run. It is freeing and a great way to distress. I am very lucky to have an amazing promenade overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.


The African women is inspiring and empowering! Take a walk along any road in any African country. Look at the women who wake up every morning to make ends meet, to feed their families. Look at them fight to defend their children, their homes, their families. As we celebrate hard work and determination, lets us not forget these women who are tirelessly raising the next generation of phenomenal women.


I would love to ;

Influence policies that encourage greater inclusion and development of women; foster sustainable collaboration with other regional organizations though my existing networks Because women rights are human rights. They affect a village they are everybody’s issue and I want to play my role.


To my daughters and sisters , you are stronger than you think or are lead to believe, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. To my mothers, wives and aunts, you are our strength and example, lead us well and lead as forward. Do more than just teach, show us!

This post first appeared on