The Oceans and Maritime division of the Pacific Community (SPC) works to build capacity and provide technical support in the Pacific region. It works to promote gender equity in the Pacific to maintain efforts for gender equality in this sector and contribute to the Sustainable Development goal 5.

The Pacific Women in Maritime Association was established in 2005 under the guidance of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) gender programme for women in maritime sector and SPC’s Regional Maritime Programme. The Second Regional Conference for Pacific Women in Maritime was held in Papua New Guinea from the 25th-28th April, bringing together women of different backgrounds in Maritime.

Meet 31-year-old Michelle Boyama, Master for cruise ship Moresby Chief in Papua New Guinea. A seafarer for most of her life, Michelle shares her story as woman in the maritime sector.

“You should be able to respect yourself and accept correction whether you like it or not because that is the only way you become a better person. I am not perfect but I try my best.” 

How did this interest in the maritime sector start?

It definitely started when I was a little girl. I was a sick child then and every time mom and dad bought me to the beach and each time, I smelt the ocean I felt all right. For me it was therapeutic.  At that time, I did not care if I could get on board as a cleaner or a cook. The only thing I knew and was definitely sure about was that I wanted to be on a boat and this is how it all started for me.

 

What about your education background?

After completing year 12 I received three offers to go to University but then I had to kindly reject them all once I got an acceptance letter from the Maritime College. I graduated with certificates in competencies that enable or allow you to get on board as an officer. In 2006, I started as a cadet and in 2004 as a Class 4. In maritime, we pretty much follow the opposite scale where we work backwards from 10-1. So that is the cream when achieve the highest.

 

How do you overcome challenges?

For me nothing comes cheap in life and growing up I had to struggle for everything. I had to learn the hard way. Being a woman working amongst men is not easy. It is not that because I am a woman that I must be treated special. I had to earn their respect and trust and they had to earn mine. I demonstrated skill and was enthusiastic about getting the job done just like them.

Michelle Boyama, Master for cruise ship Moresby Chief in Papua New Guinea

Any achievements that you would like to highlight?

I was a recipient of the 2015 Westpac Outstanding Women Award PNG. My boss encouraged me to fill out the form and to be honest I was not expecting to win as I have never won anything before in my life. It is hard to describe how it felt but I am glad that my boss invested and encouraged me to do this. I have gone through a couple of things in life out in sea but I think it is not all about me, but teamwork. Even as my role now as a master for this vessel whether something goes right or wrong, we work together as a team. For me, it is all about teamwork.

Advice to others?

I could advise young women that if you want to give it a shot and try it out, you have to figure out whether you really want to do it and work towards achieving it. If you can balance everything out and get your priorities straight then it should not be hard.  You should be able to respect yourself and accept correction whether you like it or not because that is the only way you become a better person. I am not perfect but I try my best. Links: Pacwima – Pacific Women In Maritime Association Increasing women’s access and participation in the maritime and energy sectors