Capt. Radhika Menon receives the Nari Shakti Puraskar 2021

Synergy congratulates our very own Captain Radhika Menon on receiving the Nari Shakti Puraskar from the Hon. President of India, Shri. Ram Nath Kovind, at a ceremony in New Delhi on International Women’s Day 2022.

Nari Shakti Puraskar means award for empowerment of women. It is a yearly accolade given by the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India to institutions or individuals who support or exemplify that cause.

As women increasingly scale new heights in today’s maritime industry, they follow in the sure footsteps of those who have gone before, securing their legacy and carrying forward their achievements.

Captain Radhika Menon is certainly one such trailblazer.

With dignity, grit and resolve she has overcome the many difficulties faced by a shefarer in the early 1990s, hauling down glass ceilings so long shored up by discrimination in parts of our industry. Some of her reward, after more than three decades of determined progress, has been to expand the ever-increasing circle of opportunity for women, and not just in shipping.

Radhika Menon began her career as a Radio Officer in 1991, when onboard tenure might exceed a year, crews were all-male and could number 40-50 and the internet was a hard-to-explain concept to people.

“I felt as if everyone was watching me, waiting for me to make a mistake, and in many cases, I am sure I was right,” she said.

GMDSS meant that Radhika’s initial role would soon disappear, but this gave her the chance to realise her dream of becoming India’s first female Master Mariner.

She sat for her navigating officer exams – needless to say as the only woman in the classroom – and passed with flying colours. Then, having completed her time on board in various capacities, she progressed to her first and thoroughly well-earned command in 2012.

She then went on to become the first woman to command a foreign-owned ship.

“That turned out to be a challenge in itself, and I must thank Synergy Marine Group’s CEO Captain Rajesh Unni for his inspirational leadership and his progressive views on diversity, inclusion and gender equality”

The rest is happier history.

In tackling a seeming impenetrable male bastion, she attributes her success to a blend of “… resilience, integrity, luck and timing”, and observes that “four stripes command the respect – I mean, the wheelhouse and the sea don’t know your gender. Your potential is limited only by the power of your imagination.” We congratulate Capt. Radhika Menon for breaking barriers, transcending preconceived expectations and proving that women at sea are capable of doing all that men can, and sometimes more.