The Pacific Women in Maritime Association (PacWiMA) has been revived and will advocate for the empowerment and integration of Pacific women in the maritime sector.
This was among the outcomes of a conference held in Tonga last week which brought together stakeholders from the region’s maritime sector to actively discuss and share ideas on the theme of recognising the economic contribution and leadership of women in this sector.
Organised by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Pacific Community (SPC), the conference enabled Pacific Island country and territory representatives to provide tangible solutions for raising the profile of the involvement of women in the maritime sector, through networking, advocacy and awareness programmes.
The participants adopted a resolution and a work plan for the next three years, and agreed to advocate in their respective countries for the adoption and promotion of policies and regulations supporting access for women to maritime education and the merchant marine professions.
“This type of conference is long overdue in raising awareness of women’s role in sustainable development and its theme indicated that a better future for Pacific women in maritime is ahead of us and that we must seize this opportunity to make sure that we shall not fail, for failure is not an option,” the Chief Executive Officer of Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ana Bing Fonua, stated.
“Creating a community of experienced women in maritime occupations needs to take place at several levels, in the sector and its industries,” Ms Fonua added.
Women make up only 2% of the worldwide supply of seafarers and mainly work in the cruise and ferries sector which are among the worst paid and least protected jobs at sea.
Evidence suggests an increasing number of women are entering the maritime profession to ensure passengers and cargo are transported safely.
Nonetheless, the contribution of women is generally unrecognised and undervalued. Changing this view is a looming challenge for the sector that is being addressed through global and regional efforts.
“Entry of women into the maritime sector must be enhanced for the sector to flourish. The IMO has been actively working for over 25 years not only to integrate women into the maritime industry, but also to change the sector for the betterment of women,” the Senior Deputy Director, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO, Pamela Tansey, said.
“This discussion is well-timed and extremely encouraging, which is critical for this topic to secure sustained attention both at national and regional level, with a common goal to transform the maritime sector to a more inclusive and gender-balanced domain,” she added.
The conference highlighted the importance of a coordinated approach to keeping women employed in the maritime sector and made aware of opportunities and emerging issues.
“This is a timely effort by the Pacific region in responding to Sustainable Development Goal 5 in encouraging policy discussion on women’s full and effective participation, in this case, the integration of women in the maritime sector,” SPC’s Deputy Director Transport, Thierry Nervale, said.
“More importantly, the focus of the meeting reinforces the Pacific Community’s regional effort to promote the advancement of women through economic empowerment,” he said.
Women from the Pacific region who hold positions in maritime affairs, maritime education and training, the protection of the marine environment, ports and fisheries and the gender-related domain attended the regional meeting along with a few male counterparts from both the public and private sectors.
The conference ended on Friday in Nuku’alofa.