Jamaica is to host the Caribbean’s first ever Women in Maritime Association Conference as a first step towards establishing an IMO Women in Maritime Association for the region.
Taking place in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from April 13-17, the Conference aims to support regional efforts to deepen the integration of women in the maritime sector through the establishment of a Women in Maritime Association (WiMA) for the Caribbean.
WiMA is the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) gender programme which this year marks its 27th year. One of the drivers of the programme has been the establishment of formal regional linkages between women managers in the maritime and port sectors, to provide a permanent channel for the exchange of information. To date six associations have been established in various regions globally under the auspices of IMO.
24 Caribbean States have been invited to take part in the Women in Maritime Affairs Conference which aims to:
- Establish a regional cooperation network that promotes information exchange, training and institutional strengthening
- Stimulate the integration and participation of women in the ports and maritime community of the Caribbean
- Enhance national and regional recognition of the role of women in the port and maritime sector of the Caribbean with a view to contributing to the implementation of IMO instruments through regional maritime strategies
- Strengthen the cooperation network among women in the port and maritime sector in the region, and
- Increase employment opportunities for women in national maritime administrations, port authorities and maritime training institutions.
The IMO’s decision to establish a WiMA in the Caribbean follows Jamaica’s participation in the 2nd International Conference on Maritime Women Global Leadership which was hosted by the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden in spring 2014. During that conference the benefits to be derived from such an association were highlighted.
Jamaica, represented by MAJ Deputy Director General Claudia Grant and Vivette Grant, Deputy Executive Directorof the Caribbean Maritime Institute, presented a paper entitled “Women in the Maritime Sector: Surviving and Thriving in a Man’s World – a Caribbean Perspective”. The findings and recommendations of this paper were informed by a survey conducted over eight of the Caribbean States and involving some 40 female maritime professionals from various sectors of the industry.
One of the recommendations emanating from the survey was the need for the establishment of a national/regional association. A very significant 80% of the participants surveyed expressed the need for such an association, which would:
- establish an effective communication network to facilitate ongoing dialogue and the sharing of ideas and best practices among women in the sector
- be a primary forum for networking through the hosting of conferences and seminars on gender issues and industry development
- monitor standards and initiatives to encourage gender equity in employment, performance and qualifications opportunities at all levels
- promote the maritime sector as a viable career option for women in the Caribbean, and identify and promote the job opportunities in the industry to facilitate the career advancement of women
- foster the establishment of organizational mechanisms that orient and support women in the maritime sector
Following the Conference and a subsequent approach from the Maritime Authority of Jamaica to the IMO Secretary General, the IMO has committed its support to the Caribbean to enable the establishment of a regional association for female maritime professionals and this week’s Conference is the first step towards this goal.
MAJ Deputy Director General Claudia Grant said: “We are very excited to be hosting this important event on behalf of the wider Caribbean region. Women play an increasingly important role within the maritime sector, which is a significant economic driver for our region. We believe it is important to do everything we can to enable women to survive and thrive in the maritime industry and by working together in this way the whole Caribbean region is demonstrating the importance it places on women’s roles in this important and specialised sector.”
The inaugural IMO Women in Maritime Affairs (WIMA) Conference will take place at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Hotel, Montego Bay, Jamaica from April 13-17, 2015.