March 8 of every year is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day, which was launched in 2011, is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements and calls for gender equality. For this year, the theme “Be Bold for Change” is aptly adopted in the maritime sphere.
The Women in Maritime Philippines (WIMAPHIL) is making strides in advancing, through bold moves, the interests of women in the maritime sector. Embracing a volunteerism stance, WIMAPHIL took to rallying women engaged in maritime endeavors—from government to the shipping and port sectors, to the academe and to those who by affinity find links to the sea—towards promoting better access to opportunities generally reserved to men. Indeed, treading in a man’s domain presents challenges, which were defied by the women who comprise the organization. That’s being bold for a change!
Launching the She to Sea campaign is one big, bold step which WIMAPHIL opted to take, notwithstanding the persistent dismal record of uptake of women in the seafaring profession. The number of women seafarers who were taken in for shipboard engagement tapered off at two percent and there is no sign this will improve in the coming decades. The #BeBoldforChange tag for the IWD 2017, has been carried out by WIMAPHIL since 2012 with its She to Sea program.
Urging the men to take a new perspective with respect to opening wider opportunities for women in the maritime industry is by itself self-fulfilling. Acceptance to working with women is observed at least in shore-based maritime facilities. Generally, women in maritime are being recognized for their roles in many policy-making, legislative and administration activities. In the shipping business, women make impressive marks not without great compliments from their male colleagues. Extending the same openness to women seafarers is a persistent appeal.
Change for women in maritime
This year is a milestone year for WIMAPHIL as in July 2017 it celebrates the 10th anniversary of its founding. The achievements the organization posted could be measured in the way it has promoted the interests of women in maritime, on how opportunities were explored, on deepening the appreciation of the industry and, most importantly, in discovering a sense of optimizing the limitless potential of women in the maritime realm—still considered a man’s world.
In the past ten years, the organization was able to mobilize women in undertaking activities that promote maritime safety and the protection of the environment. They join and actively participate in programs such as the “WIMA on Watch” (WOW) which aims to instill safety consciousness as a way of life in the same manner that protection of the environment from ship-generated wastes should be given utmost attention. The readiness to assist and be a part of the team which empowers women to do more in the maritime sector is a manifestation of the change in women in maritime.
Often, as WIMAPHIL becomes visible in the maritime scene, male friends ask when the International Men’s Day is celebrated so that they also can replicate the initiatives of WIMAPHIL. And yes, there is indeed an International Men’s Day celebrated every 19 November the objectives of which are the same as for IWD. And we call on men—make as well the bold move of change!