For more than 100 years, the world has celebrated women’s achievements and their incredible contribution to society, economics, culture, politics and business – including maritime.
Since the inaugural International Women’s Day in 1911, women have helped build a shipping industry that keeps global business buoyant. Without it, the essential goods that we all rely on would never reach their intended destination.
While paying tribute, this year’s event on 8 March also urges everyone to ‘Break The Bias’ by removing the career barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential. Each of us has the power to call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping within our own and other organisations across the maritime industry.
Encouraging more women to join shipping is key to creating a level playing field. Making the industry increasingly gender diverse can be a catalyst for more promotions, managerial roles or executive appointments involving females. The good news is that the number of female seafarers, who hold certificates issued under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), have almost doubled in five years to 24,059 worldwide, according to the Seafarer Workforce Report 2021.
The trend for more women in maritime is reflected in The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA)’s workforce, which boasts a strong gender balance of 51% females to 49% males. Their insights, expertise and dedication have given The Bahamas the foundations to build a globally renowned, quality ship registry with an ever-growing international presence.
Another measure of shipping’s growing appeal among women is the BMA Sponsored Bahamas Maritime Cadets Corps (BMCC) (www.bahamasmaritimecadetcorps.com) with 65% of recruits on the 2020/22 course being female. For the 2019/20 intakes, five of the top seven cadets were women. We wish to encourage Bahamian female students who are considering their future career path to join the programme and commence their journey in this exciting and rewarding industry as there are ongoing measures for collaboration with shipowners/industry partners.
The BMA has female employees who are proud members of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA)( www.wistainternational.com , the global organisation that connects females and decision-makers around the world and which provides opportunities for local professional networking through WISTA Bahamas. At a regional level, there is further scope for engagement through Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC).
The expertise and competence of all the females at The BMA are testament to the incredible contribution that women make to this industry. We can inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps by promoting shipping, sharing stories and celebrating success on landmark dates such as 18 May which is the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) International Day for Women in Maritime. This recognition of females within this critical industry that sustains global growth aligns with the UN sustainability goal 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (IMO and the Sustainable Development Goals) and is one that is wholeheartedly supported and endorsed by The Bahamas as a responsible and active IMO member state. Information on IMO gender programme can be accessed through the IMO website https://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/TechnicalCooperation/Pages/WomenInMaritime.aspx
Women have long played a major role in building one of the world’s leading maritime industries here in The Bahamas. Now it’s time to give talented females more opportunities to steer shipping towards a bright and prosperous future.