The Secretary General of the United Nations International Maritime Office (IMO) on Saturday pushed for the increased involvement of women in seafaring, saying they are the key to the growth of the industry.
“The importance of women as a huge source of safer sea voyage human resource cannot be overstressed. The shipping world cannot afford to ignore such rich and still largely untapped source of quality recruit,” IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim told some 5,000 marine officers, students and their families who attended the International Seafarers’ Day, sponsored by SM Global Pinoy Program.
Lim urged Filipino women to join the industry since they have proven to be as equally competent as their male counterparts.
The Philippines is the world’s capital source of seafarers with some 367,000 Filipino seafarers deployed all over the world, but women make up only 2 percent of the world’s maritime workforce of 1.3 million.
Lim said demand for seafarers will continue to rise and the greater participation of women is of vital importance.
“Looking ahead, the demand for global fleet for seafarers is increasing and predicted to rise even further, attracting seafarers, particularly officers,” he said.
Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Deputy Administrator Gloria Banas agreed saying that based on their feedback and evaluation of female cadets and officers in the maritime industry, women have shown a lot of capabilities that make them at par with men.
“The thrust is really gender equality in all professions and that includes the crewing industry, and women have been starting to make their presence felt because of their commitment and dedication to their jobs,” she said.
The primary consideration, she added, is their accommodation in the ships since seafaring has been a male-dominated profession since the beginning. “With the issue of accommodation being addressed, we don’t see any reason why more should not join the industry because they have proven to be an asset in any ship.”
Lim also lauded the investments and programs carried out by the Philippine government, through the Marina to make sure it remains to be the crewing capital of the world. “This country has made huge collective investments in maritime education and in training over the recent years and the highly specialized training facilities you have put in place showed the commitment you have to retain our place as the so-called crewing capital of the world.”
The event marked the first time the IMO head was present in the country.
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.
The Day of the Seafarer was established by IMO in 2010 with the objective of raising awareness of life at sea, and engages support for seafarers’ welfare.
This year’s campaign theme was: “At Sea for All.”
The theme has a clear link with the 2016 World Maritime Day theme, “Shipping Indispensable To The World,” emphasizing that seafarers serve at sea not just for the shipping industry or for their own career purposes but for all of us –and, consequently, they are also indispensable to the world.