Maritime professionals must all play a part in challenging stereotypes and changing mindsets in order to create gender equality across the global shipping industry, Rear Admiral (ret’d) Peter Brady, Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica has urged.
Speaking in Kingston today, on World Maritime Day – which takes the theme Empowering Women in the Maritime Community – Admiral Brady said: “We have heard many times that shipping has historically been a male-dominated industry and that this tradition runs long and deep. We, therefore, as maritime professionals of stature, must play our part and press for progress by maintaining a gender parity mindset, challenging stereotypes and biases, influencing others’ beliefs/actions and finally by acknowledging and celebrating women’s achievements.”
Praising the International Maritime Organization for leading the way, Admiral Brady said: “Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurs productivity and growth, and benefits every stakeholder in the global maritime community.”
Below is his full speech:
World Maritime Day Message from Rear Admiral (ret’d) Peter Brady of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica
Empowering Women in the Maritime Community
“No country can ever flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens”
– Michelle Obama
The theme we are celebrating today is “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” and some may argue that women have been making progress and that we have been empowering our women. However, there is still work to be done here, in this our beautiful country, to increase women’s participation and leadership in the public and private sector.
The European Union’s Institute for gender equality notes that women’s empowerment has five components: women’s 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.
With that said, it is important for us to reflect on our current situation and identify how we can positively contribute to the growth and development of our women and girls. We also need to realise and accept that gender inequality/gender parity is not something that is just an issue in non-industrialized countries, but it is an issue that no country has been able to escape. Education, healthcare, and employment are just some of the obstacles women face in this world today and thus it is necessary for us to push for changes.
In this context, promoting avenues to education and training, helping to raise awareness, building self-confidence, supporting the expansion of choices, supporting increased access to and control over resources, and facilitating actions to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality are important tools for empowering women and girls to claim their rights.
We have heard many times that shipping has historically been a male-dominated industry and that this tradition runs long and deep. We, therefore, as maritime professionals of stature, must play our part and press for progress by maintaining a gender parity mindset, challenging stereotypes and biases, influencing others’ beliefs/actions and finally by acknowledging and celebrating women’s achievements.
Conversely, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2019 theme “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” is a reflection of the commitment of the IMO and the international maritime community to increase the mandate to empower our women and girls. The IMO believes that empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurs productivity and growth, and benefits every stakeholder in the global maritime community. Through its Women in Maritime gender equality and capacity-building, the IMO encourages its Member States to enable women to train alongside men in their maritime institutes and so acquire the high level of competence that the maritime industry demands.
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.
With the example set by the IMO, Jamaica has taken steps to play its part, and now hosts the Secretariat for the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC), which was formed in April 2015, under the auspice of the IMO. The intent of the Association is to foster capacity building and the development of women in the maritime sector. They intend 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. Additionally they aim 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 be a focal point on women related issues, and most importantly they strive to be one of the leaders in lobbying and advocacy for the development of gender policies.
However, commendable as these strides have been, I still believe that we need to press for the continued development of women in the maritime industry and for the empowerment of young girls so that we as a country can confidently declare our self as one of the catalysts in promoting gender equality and equity in the Caribbean Region. In this, we can set ourselves apart from the many countries globally where women and girls are marginalized and discriminated against.