The issue of Gender Inequality is older than you and I reading this. What started on a social level has percolated deep into the corporate echelons, including the Maritime sector.
Lack of a level playing field and recognizing the potential of women as equal to men are some of the issues plaguing the otherwise posh sector. The glamour of being at the sea, going places and earning in 6 figures is eclipsed by the constant backlash at the regulatory bodies for not doing enough to make seafaring accessible to women seafarers.
SHM Shipcare, a family run business specialising in the manufacture of shipping safety equipment, believes that women have always been equal and at par in all aspects to men. It is the mindset of the society that deems women as unequal to men. In order to dissociate this thought process, SHM Shipcare organised ‘Celebrating Women in Maritime’ #CWIM 2019, in collaboration with the DG Shipping and WISTA on September 11, 2019, at the Trident Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai.
Dr Deepti Mankad, Founder of Mindspeak and professional trainer to maritime professionals, opened the event through her keynote address. “Women are one major workforce that needs to be tapped further. We need to stand for ourselves and make the best from opportunities, we need to challenge ourselves. There are women of all ages and abilities wanting to be the part of the maritime future and must ensure to not waste any more time to provide them with the opportunity.”, said Deepti.
The event saw active participation from some of the prominent people of the fraternity like The DG Shipping Mr Amitabh Kumar, Director of Finance of SCI Mrs. H K Joshi, Seasoned seafarer, Capt. Suneha Gadpande, Provost of Tolani Maritime Institute Capt. Razdan, Maritime Lawyer Ms. Sandhya Pillai, Vice President Heading Training and Assessment at The Great Eastern Shipping Company Mr. David Birwadkar and Executive Director, ONGC Mr. Suresh Jandial. The dignitaries engaged in a healthy panel discussion that tabled the issue of ‘How seafaring can be made accessible to women seafarers’.
The DG Shipping, Mr. Amitabh Kumar said, “You first need to encourage women to join maritime training and that encouragement is possible if we communicate more with women, we inform that this industry is possible for them to participate. We inform them about the opportunities and exposure that the shipping industry can offer. This needs to be worked upon in 4 aspects – 1) Encouragement 2) Retention 3) Refocus and 4) Leadership”
The 2-hr long panel brought forth a medley of perspectives, issues and solutions. Key issues that were discussed revolved around the lack of opportunities for women seafarers making seafaring as one of the least lucrative career options for aspiring women seafarers. Gender biased mentality and an overall aversion towards career fields that involve a more open and a bold lifestyle have always been discouraged for women.
Another hurdle arises with the difficulty of getting access to jobs and professional development in the maritime industry. Aspiring female seafarers perceive little chance of advancing in their field as they feel that they will be subjected to difficulties. The scenario within corporates is no different. Women recruits are looked at as a liability and often times their gender stands out more than their calibre. Does this mentality bode well for organisations that represent the most crucial sector of the world’s largest democracy?
Mr Saifuddin Hajee, in his address, stressed upon the point that, ‘Women are the symbol of strength, courage and resilience. Mentally, physically they have been made as equals to men. No matter what issues we discuss, solutions we come up with, it is up to us as the members of the community to decide what are we going to do about it. Action and not just discussion will determine the state of Gender equality in this fraternity.’
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has rolled out ‘Empowering women in maritime’ as the theme of World Maritime Day 2019 and CWIM 2019 has been initiated by SHM Shipcare to lend support to this global cause.
“Shipping must draw talent from every corner of the globe and every sector of the population to ensure its own sustainability.” This was a key message from IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, in his opening remarks to the 2019 IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event (15-18 September), held in Cartagena, Colombia.
“Improving the participation of women in society leads to better social and economic outcomes. This is also true in the maritime community. So, it is critical that women are provided with equal access to opportunities at all levels and within all sectors of the maritime industry. Experience shows that, when they are given those opportunities, women are strong and successful – continually challenging old-fashioned and outdated perceptions and proving that, today, the maritime industries are for everyone. It’s not about your gender, it’s about what you can do,” Mr Lim said.
SHM Shipcare through #CWIM 2019 appeals to all the stakeholders of the maritime fraternity to shift gears in the way they perceive the position of women in maritime. They believe that if all the stakeholders of this fraternity decide to create a change, then no regulation or authority can stop it from happening. One only needs to have the courage to make it happen.