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Shipping | International Day for Women in Maritime to promote training and visibility

Published:Tuesday | May 17, 2022 | 12:06 AM
A cross section of women in maritime from the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Caribbean Maritime University, and Women in Maritime Association Caribbean.
A cross section of women in maritime from the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Caribbean Maritime University, and Women in Maritime Association Caribbean.

The inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime will be observed on Wednesday under the theme ‘Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment’.

The resolution to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, and support work which addresses the gender imbalance in maritime, was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) during its 32nd Assembly in 2021.

While strides have been made to improve the disparity women experience in the industry, some barriers remain which prevent the development of environments where women and girls can thrive.

The European Union’s Institute for Gender Equality notes that women’s empowerment has five components: sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.

“More women need to hold leadership positions aboard ships and ashore to become role models, to dispel misconceptions, eliminate gender bias, and overcome age-old stereotypes. Women in the maritime industry need increased exposure to available opportunities for advancement, thus creating a more diverse industry,” said Grace Bailey, professional administrator at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ).

Promoting avenues to access education and training, helping to raise awareness, building self-confidence, and supporting increased access to and control over resources are vital to creating environments for women and girls to succeed. Additionally, it is important to facilitate actions which can transform structures and institutions that reinforce gender discrimination and inequality.

The IMO also supports gender equality and the empowerment of women through gender-specific fellowships, by facilitating access to high-level technical training for women in the maritime sector in developing countries, and creating the environment in which women are identified and selected for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes.

“Currently, most females that are working in the maritime industry are working in administration. The industry needs more females in technical areas. We need female engineers, inspectors and marine surveyors, just to name a few,” said Gayle Hamilton, the MAJ’s assistant registrar of ships.

Jamaica has taken steps to address these concerns, and now hosts the secretariat for the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC), which was formed in April 2015 under the auspices of the IMO. The association’s goal is to foster capacity-building and the development of women in the maritime sector. WiMAC aims to achieve this through the facilitation of optimal integration of women in the industry, by shaping capabilities and further providing opportunities for professional development and growth. What’s more, it plans to position the association as a recognised contributor of information related to issues affecting women and the maritime industry in the Caribbean, by creating a repository of information, and becoming a focal point on female-related issues. Most importantly, it strives to be a leader in lobbying and advocating for the development of gender policies.

“A decade from now, I hope women and girls in the maritime sector will not be referencing the proverbial glass ceiling. Instead, it will be a future where women will be able to function and work with their male counterparts without being made to feel inferior because of their gender,” Abigail Yanique Bryan, MAJ’s registrar of ships.

As part of its celebration, the IMO is inviting women in maritime to share images of themselves in their work environments on social media, using the hashtag #WomenInMaritimeDay.