WISTA Hellas Christmas Dinner and Awards Ceremony
WISTA Hellas held a special event on December 9, to present two newly established awards and to celebrate the holiday season, in a warm and festive atmosphere at Margi Hotel in Vouliagmeni, Athens Riviera. About 200 guests had the opportunity to participate, exchange their news and Christmas wishes, after in many instances having not seen each other for a long time.
Among the distinguished guests were the Deputy Minister for Education and Religious Affairs Angelos Syrigos, the Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Maria Syreggela, the Secretary General at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Evaggelos Kyriazopoulos, the Commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard Vice Admiral Theodoros Kliaris, the Ambassador for Norway in Greece Frode Overland Andersen, the Ambassador for Panama in Greece Julie Lyberopoulos, the president of the Hellenic Shortsea Shipping Association Charalabos Simantonis, the president of WISTA International Despina Panayiotou-Theodosiou, the president of the Naval Museum of Greece Anastasia Anagnostopoulou-Paloumbi, the president of the Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus Kostis Fragoulis, the president of the Piraeus Marine Club Irene Daifas, as well as correspondents from the Greek and international press.
President of WISTA Hellas Elpi Petrakis welcomed everyone and announced the two new Awards that the board of directors had established this year. The Leadership Award was granted to Mrs Ioanna Topaloglou and presented by Deputy Minister Maria Syreggela. The Leadership Award aims to reward achievement in gender diversity and equality either by leading positive actions to enable talented employees regardless of gender to realise their full potential, or by evidencing diversity within an organisation, or by acting as a role model in championing gender equality in the Greek maritime community, or by creating an inclusive culture by challenging gender inequalities.
Mrs Topaloglou, managing director at Orion International Brokers & Consultants and a member of the board of WISTA Hellas for years, is one of the pioneers of gender diversity in the Greek maritime workplace. She implemented gender equality and equal opportunities in her company from the 90’s and trained, mentored and inspired women who have come up through the ranks to become leaders in the maritime industry, making Mrs Topaloglou’s leadership a key factor in facilitating a new generation of high-profile female role models in the industry.
Deputy Minister Syreggela thanked WISTA Hellas for inviting her and emphasised the need for female role models; and praised the fact that there were many men among the guests. She said that “it is not a battle of the sexes; we need the men by our side to defend the same rights as we do”. She made reference to the National Plan for Gender Equality, which involves 17 ministries, and pointed out that no country can have worthwhile development if it does not promote gender equality and if it does not make use of its entire human resource capabilities and especially women which is after all half of the population.
The Award to the Hellenic Coast Guard, also established this year, is a recognition for the HCG’s dedication and commitment to the protection of human life at sea during search and rescue missions. Two chief petty officers and captains on patrol boats Efi-Georgia Kalliontzi and Despina Diakovasili received the awards from the commandant of the HCG, Vice Admiral Theodoros Kliaris.
Vice Admiral Kliaris said in his speech that the HCG opened its doors to women in 1980, 102 years after its establishment, which seemed very progressive at the time. In a relatively short period ever since, the women have had a noticeable effect on the coast guard, because of their professionalism, focus, courage and passion for the mission of the HCG. Vice Admiral Kliaris said that today there are 1,919 women at all ranks and in various posts across the country and abroad, and he praised the two award-winners by saying that they are shining examples for the female presence in the HCG.
Mrs Petrakis said that “the mission of the HCG is diverse; we focus throughout to the protection of human life at sea. We realise that such missions are conducted most of the time under harsh conditions, and the rescuers risk their lives selflessly to protect others. For all of us in shipping, our driving force is our seafarers, and their safety is our top priority. But this award had also a gender diversity criterion. Today we are granting these awards to two young women, captains on patrol boats who participate actively on the frontline of search and rescue missions.”
Mrs Petrakis thanked all WISTA Hellas members and the loyal sponsors and friends of the association for their support and expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy and to other organisations for their excellent collaboration. She thanked especially the event sponsors Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp, International Registries Inc, and Tototheo Maritime SA.
Finally, she invited everyone to be even more active with proposals and ideas and to continue supporting WISTA Hellas, as today more than ever we all need to work for diversity and inclusion in the shipping industry. She concluded by wishing everyone Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.