Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Female Shipping Lobby Celebrates International Women's Day

Variety of Events to Promote Gender Equality
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – With International Women's Day (IWD 2021) falling on 8 March WISTA International, the global organisation for female managers in the shipping industry, announced a plethora of activities to promote the cause of gender equality.

Firstly there was the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with APEC Seafarers Excellence Network (APEC SEN) to promote and develop joint networks to support both bodies. APEC SEN is a comprehensive network that promotes the well-qualified, and efficient maritime workforce that maintains the highest standard of the professionalism and ethical conduct in the Asia region and globally.

The MoU outlines the collaborative and cooperative synergies to support the alignment to the WISTA Mission, the APEC Pillars on Empowerment of Women, and commitment to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The objectives of this co-operation between two of the most respected groups in maritime campaigning and support are to build a community that will attract and support women in the APEC Region.

They will also work together to establish a Mentor-Mentee Network that will empower future generation of maritime women professionals through mentoring seminars and/or international conference via webinars with the main focus on topics related to maritime transport. Both bodies will work to establish participants from the National WISTA Associations (NWAs) to participate in the APEC Seafarers Excellence Network (SEN) On-Board Training to foster competent young Future Maritime Global Leaders as part of the APEC SEN project.

WISTA’s work in gender diversity and their role in supporting women in the maritime sector will be a major part of the co-operation with APEC SEN in establishing the development of a Certificate Course on Empowering Women in the global maritime industry. Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA International welcomed the announcement of the MoU, saying:

“This is a very welcome addition to the strategy we have of working with leading maritime organisations to support diversity in this vital global industry. APEC SEN has the knowledge and support of seafarers, many who are women, who recognise the need to align with other strong bodies to promote our work in shipping and other parts of the world’s maritime industry.”

The importance of the new arrangement was not lost on Dong Jae Lee, Secretary General of APEC SEN who also recognised the new partnership and its potential for diversity and growth in 2021, commenting:

“Recognising the importance of diversity and women inclusion in the international maritime industry, the cooperation among WISTA and APEC SEN will take practical actions to draw tangible outcomes in short- and long-term perspective, by fully aligning its projects with APEC Pillars on Empowerment of Women, WISTA Mission, and commitment the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with particular focus to Goal 5.”

WISTA also held an online event hosted by the Focus Group in Africa which was formed in August 2020 as one of the actions prompted by the MoU signed by the IMO and WISTA International in January 2020. The Focus Group is made up of IMO-established Regional Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs) in Africa and WISTA International along with National WISTA Associations also in Africa.

For more than 45 years WISTA has been working to establish and bring about the recognition of women working in the maritime environment, and during the online event women working in shipping and other maritime roles discussed issues related to leadership skills; the effective mentoring approach that is has been highlighted by the global pandemic and how it has affected the working conditions for seafarers during this period.

2021 is an important year for WISTA International and as part of the continuing drive for gender equality in the maritime world, the latest collaboration is with Maritime SheEO under the SHE of Change Campaign to drive gender equality initiatives in the maritime industry. Sanjam Gupta, WISTA International ExCo Member and Maritime SheEO Founder based in Mumbai, India was responsible for a number of short video sessions, highlighting the role of female seafarers getting the perspective of how Covid-19 impacted them as well as views from the young women who will be the future of this sector. She said:

”The maritime industry needs to celebrate the contribution of women. Seafarers are the true heroes and we are happy to share these stories of ‘women on board’ who are an essential part of the industry.”

Photo: Courtesy of Maritime SheEO.