by John Faraclas
You might think that I am referring to the World Wide Web, no I am not. I am referring to What Women Want and in this briefing, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, I will also expedite on the See She Sea factor.
I praise, above all, all our Women and in particular our Sea-Maidens including those who continue their journey in the Sea of Eternity… They have all left their mark behind… We have just started, following our second annual 100 Top Women in Shipping, presenting you all 186 women from all over Planet Ocean who made it to these 100 places; many Congratulations to all.
During this week’s five days, from Monday the 8th until tonight Friday the 12th of March, I have read hundreds of interesting messages, notes, views and articles and decided to write my own thoughts and views as brief as possible…
As you might have noticed, at the end of the …score board we had a unique vote emanating from the Secretary-General of INTERCARGO Kostas Gkonis, who emailed us the following: “Given the humanitarian and crew change crisis faced by seafarers in 2020, which is unfortunately ongoing, I would nominate “The mother of the seafarer” (encompassing in a symbolic manner also seafarers’ wives, children and families back home…)”. What a nomination as we have witnessed – and continue to witness, despicable issues with this Crew Changes issue… This automatically brings us at the centre of the Gulf of Corinth in Greece, at the seafaring port of Galaxidi were on the 20th of September 2008 we had the unveiling of the International Memorial to the Wife of the Seafarer by the then IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos, and the then Minister of Mercantile Marine, the Aegean and Island Policy of Greece Anastasi Papaligouras. This memorial aims in recognizing the contribution of the Wife of the Seafarer to the overall mission of shipping and the welfare of mankind. Greek sculptor Kostas Ananidas did his best – depicting the wife of a seafarer, accompanied by her two children, waving farewell to her husband who is sailing away. Amongst the many governmental delegations, present were the heads of international shipping organizations, BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO as well as the President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, the Chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee, the Secretary-General of the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation, and local Galaxidiotes; what an honour! We have covered specially this memorial during a visit of an allaboutshipping team in Galaxidi three years ago! (Watch inside the link the live video).-
Earlier on in 2008 on the International Women’s Day at London’s Hellenic Centre, Judith Herrin, Professor of Late Antiquity and Byzantine Studies at King’s College London, discussed “how the history of women in the Byzantine era can inspire us today”. Drawing on her wider knowledge of documents written by and about women, she emphasized the importance of Education and Training, not only in literacy and book culture but also in technical and household skills. “From exceptional authors like Anna Komnene, who wrote the history of her father Alexios I, and Kassia whose hymns are still performed today in the Orthodox liturgy, to ordinary daughters and mothers who went to court to claim their inheritance, Byzantium reveals many brave women. Men also wrote about women and not always in a predictably misogynist or sexist fashion, witness the amusing verses by Christian authors of the sixth century A.D., about much loved courtesans. The Greek Anthology of epigrams was recopied and edited in the tenth and thirteenth century.” Prof Herrin concluded that “education for girls today is a key way of improving the condition of women” and noted with pleasure that there were one and half million entries on the web marking International Women’s Day 2005 – today this runs to over ten million!
2008 was on all counts a year to remember in all fronts including of course Women and WISTAs in particular; likewise 2020-2021. At the USA organised WISTA Annual gathering, the then WISTA International president Marita Scott insisted “…that there is much work to be done in getting more women into board positions, and bringing increased competence into the industry by offering specialist courses to members”. Moreover, leading educationalist Irene Rosberg – now president of WISTA Denmark and a driving force in Nordic WISTA as well as winner of the 2020 Top 100 Women in Shipping, raised a cheer when she said: “ The time is past when women are on the board and responsible for the Christmas dinner or the Easter picnic or the curtains for the room. No, my friends, we are going to be active members of the board: we are going to ask the men to arrange the picnics”. She ended: “We have to concentrate on developing our leadership skills and broadening our knowledge in this matter.”
21 years ago (March 2000 – what a coincidence) during one of my regular visits in Weymouth, Dorset, I visited the magnificent brig, the millennium brig berth at Weymouth’s port the “Stavros S. Niarchos” being under intense preparation for her maiden voyage with cadets. Her master was a woman, Captain Barbara Campell!
21 years ago in early July 2000– 5th of July being also my sister’s Raquel Irene’s birthday) I delivered a speech at the 8th International Congress on Graeco-Oriental and African Studies in Chios and Innousses, Greece, under the theme: “Navigation and Trade in the Mediterranean from the 7th to 19th Century” on “The social Ethics and training of a Mariners’ Family during the 18th and 19h centuries; the guide to a successful 20th century and beyond.” The second part of my paper focused on the contribution of Women in the shipping adventure in its entirety…
Here you go:
“…So many powerful women – most of whom remained publicly unknown, safely guided them (I mean their men) in the sea of success”
And the finale: “ The most powerful factor behind this success being the Chian woman, who, as we say today ‘made sure her man was always (on) top of others’. Furthermore, it is worth to repeat the passage from Dr. Irene Saroglou-Tsakos’ book ‘Women of Kardamyla’: “The Woman of Kardamyla was frugal in all her ways and firmly attached to the vision of Him. She undertook to bring up her children, and like a wise housekeeper she knew how to apportion her expenditures, and as always gave priority to the inviolable condition that in each payment she must put aside the amount for her dream, to rear her children and provide them with the means to study, to see to that her daughters could marry (were provided with dowry) and her sons, after leaving school, could go to sea – that is, take up the sea as a profession. What would you admire first in this woman, her courage and greatheartdness in struggling with the barren soil of the island and with the harvests, some to sell to others and some to keep for her nourishment of her family? How many times did she deprived her children of small treats so as not to spend money from her reserves? This woman was a bright guiding light who led her husband, her children and her brother to the haven of realization of that dream”.
For me, but also for you the best book on women, is that of Nikos Z. Perris, 1977, under the title “The Woman of Chios” (H γυναίκα της Χίου). Ι doubt whether any other book of this calibre exists. Before leaving Chios I will make sure if it exists translated and after all, I pay tribute to all women standing more than equal besides their men, fiancés, fathers, husbands, fathers-in-law, sons who with their unique Chiot ability and care saved money in creating todays Greek shipping. It might look later on that I repeat a similar passage, but this is not the case. There are some interesting passages by George Finlay Journals, when he visited Chios in 1853, which I wholehearted recommend”.
Over the years, I have conducted many special surveys on Women in Shipping and I can see that there is a great improvement in these 21 years and hope through further education and training, mentorship as well as appropriate marketing, Women can improve their presence and success to a male dominated field and work side by side as equals for the benefit of all involved. The She, See, Sea factor has a momentum now and we must take advantage of this unique opportunity and have more women at sea too; the dice is cast! Having said that we need training ships with improved also accommodation for the needs of our Sea-maidens! Good upbringing too and social values a MUST for coexistence on board and in office avoiding unpleasant situations such as sex harassment et al, issues which lately are despicable for our society from what we all read and watch live on TV all over Planet Ocean!
Never ever forget that the biggest Shipping empires were created by Women’s participation, particularly in Europe.
As a Greek and Greek in Diaspora I am more than proud of our Women. One of the Greek Heroines of the Greek War of Independence – which this year marks its bicentennial (1821-2021), was Spetsiot Shipowner Laskarina Bouboulina converting her cargo ship into a warship to fight the Ottomans; posthumously she was awarded the rank of Admiral.
WISTA has a major task in further improving the She factor in our shipping society and we also need Women Politicians in the field of Shipping.
We eagerly await your comments in What Women Want in the Shipping Industry.
N.B. I devote this briefing to my late Mother Marcella Faraclas – Kostalas, who past away exactly a year ago at 97; she was the one to saw me the value of Women in all aspects of everyday life, shipping life for us, as well as respect for Women. She was the link for all her male cousins in her vast and turbulent family, a specialist in shorting out males’ shipping business differences in her own Alternative Dispute Resolution…
I owe my success in the Shipping Industry to Women! Mutual devotion and respect; THANK YOU ALL all over Planet Ocean! (Everything is documented with pictures too in my forthcoming Memoirs “Black Sea Manoeuvres”)