FOR GENDER equality in maritime to be realised, networking must move beyond gathering contacts and sharing experiences and strategies.
That was the message of Deputy Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), Claudia Grant, at a recent event observing International Day for Women in Maritime under the theme ‘Mobilising networks for gender equality’.
Grant said the mobilisation of networks is important to drive desired change and not simply “knock at the door or build stamina to persevere and endure”, adding, “There is the need for strategic partnerships with industry stakeholders as well as civil society, which will help to effect the policy changes needed; there is the need to identify, highlight and celebrate women’s achievements in the sector.”
The performance of women at sea cannot be anecdotal, Grant said. “It must be promoted and recognised. This will create the ‘can do’ mentally needed to encourage other women to enter the sector. It will also foster that groundswell of awareness in industry needed to remove doubt that women can be valuable members of their team. It will demonstrate that it is worth making the adjustments to facilitate employment of women on their ships.”
What’s more, women already in the sector must work to empower other women and girls. “We have accomplished much, but data show that there is so much more to be done. Certainly in Jamaica, we need to revive the WiMAC (Women in Maritime Association Caribbean) chapter and progress the work that was started on mentoring, promotion of careers at sea to our girls and the achievements of our women, etc.”
Woman are underrepresented in various professions within the industry, Grant said, noting that their presence in technical areas is particularly disproportionate. “When it comes to the technical jobs, we are looking at a top end of 14 per cent females to as low as four per cent. If we look further to the jobs at sea, according to the latest BIMCO/ICS workforce report, of the 1.89 million seafarers operating merchant ships, just over 24,000, or 1.28 per cent, are females. This is also perhaps one of the factors for there being so few women in technical jobs even ashore.
“The seafaring career equips one with the essential skills needed to take on other technical professions at sea and ashore. So, if women are not allowed to pursue seafaring careers, they will be non-starters for technical posts in the industry.”
In her closing statement, Grant said women have made significant progress and are as capable of working in the field as their male counterparts. “We are equal to the task. We will accomplish much if we band together. Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
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