This coming week, from November 6 to 10, eight Filipino women engaged in the maritime sector will join their counterparts from 15 Asian countries in Dili, Timor Leste to discuss on how they could support achieve the UN Agenda 2030, under which are 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Regional conference on Women in Maritime Asia: Transitioning from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals will convene under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Timor Leste Ministry of Transportation and Communications, APORTIL, the maritime administration of Timor Leste and the German Development Cooperation Agency. Women officials from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will be joined by the private sector participants.
The WIMA-ASIA regional conference follows a similar conference held last month (October 2017) in Alexandria, Egypt, which resulted in the establishment of the Arab Women in Maritime Association (AWIMA). I was invited to participate in the Egypt conference as IMO Consultant and will also attend the Timor Leste conference for the WIMA-ASIA in the same capacity.
WIMA-ASIA was established in 2010 in Manila, Philippines, also through the support of IMO, DOTr, PPA and MARINA. To date several regional WIMAs exist aside from WIMA-ASIA and AWIMA; these are the WIMA-Caribbean (WIMAC), Pacific Island-WIMA (PACWIMA) and the Women in Maritime in Eastern and South Africa (WOMESA). The regional WIMAs located across the globe have been partners of IMO in the delivery of its Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), not only in terms of promoting the Organization’s thematic concerns relating to maritime safety, security and efficient shipping on clean oceans, but more importantly in advancing wider participation of women in the maritime sector through training and knowledge-sharing.
Following the end of the UN Millennium Development Goals program, IMO is aiming at transitioning the MDGs into the UN Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development with the platform of implementation for SDG 5 to “Achieve gender equality and empowering all women and girls” to be carried out by the regional WIMAs. To achieve synergy, regional WIMAs are urged to develop a vision that will support the realization of SDG targets, specifically SDG 5.This will prove to be a challenge considering the variances in political, socio-economic, cultural, geographical make-up and levels of development among the Asian countries. Mobilizing the women professionals who are into maritime careers in government, industry or civil society is one way of synthesizing the UN Agenda 2030 into the consciousness of a significant segment of the world’s human capital—women and girls.
The outcome of the WIMA-ASIA regional conference in Timor Leste is expected to find convergence with those which evolved in the other regional WIMAs and thereafter create a single blueprint of global advocacy for the SDGs by women in maritime. Amid the differences, I believe women will always find an opportunity to focus on areas of cooperation rather than on what causes division.
From the Philippine perspective, the WIMA-Asia initiative on the SDGs should serve as the pivot that will enable this archipelago to actualize its commitment on the UN Agenda 2030 at the same time come closer to localizing the government’s Gender and Development program through the maritime community.