Filipinos earn top posts in women’s maritime group

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An Asia-wide group of women engaged in the maritime sector has chosen a Filipino as its leader and another for a key post at its recent conference that dealt with the United Nations’ (UN) development goals, particularly on gender equality.

During the conference held in Dili, Timor Leste, on November 9, Women in Maritime-Asia (WIMA-Asia) elected Merle J. San Pedro, president of Women in Maritime-Philippines (Wimaphil), as head of the regional association’s governing council, and Sonia Malaluan of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and coordinator of the Wimaphil-Marina subsector as its treasurer.

Wima-Asia was established in 2010 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in consonance with its program on the “Intergration of Women in the Maritime Sector.” The Philippines hosts the association’s secretariat.

Fifty delegates representing 14 countries—Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam–joined the conference, which had “Transitioning from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” as its theme.


They drew up a strategic framework where they would identify measures to help meet in particular SDG 5, which is to “achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.”

WIMA-Asia joins other regional WIMAs in pushing not only for the empowerment of women and girls, but also to increase their participation in the maritime sector. They note the many opportunities available in the sector that women could consider as career options.

An aggressive campaign to spread information on these opportunities is being launched in all regional WIMAs, including those in the Pacific Islands (PacWIMA), the East and South African region (Womesa), the Caribbean (Wimac), and the Arab region (Awima). A WIMA in Latin America is expected to be created in December.

Putting up national WIMAs is expected to be pursued by all members of regional WIMAs to serve as agents for localizing the latter’s programs. Wimaphil prides itself in being the first of its kind to be established. It offers the best example in bringing forward the WIMA-Asia program for the MDGs, and has become the model for establishing national WIMAs.

Members of regional WIMAs believe that national WIMAs could hasten the mobilization of women in maritime across the globe and, thus, contribute to the realization of the UN Agenda 2030.

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