top of page

Women in Maritime: Preserving a Legacy of Resilience Towards Achieving a Barrier-Free Working

In celebration of the inaugural international day for women in maritime The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Mission supported Arab Women in Maritime Association (AWIMA) and IMOGENder Network alongside the United Arab Emirates to present the first regional virtual roundtable discussing issues women are facing in the maritime sector. Titled, ‘'Women in Maritime: Preserving a Legacy of Resilience Towards Achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment’ brought together a panel of 21 esteemed professionals from diverse areas of the maritime industry such as: government, finance, shipping, on and offshore activities, and education. The roundtable aimed to address the issues facing women in the industry and ask the esteemed professions to utilize their experience and perspective to provide productive solutions and recommendations going forward.

The panel was moderated by Ms. Effat Mostafa, the Executive Director of Tactics Creative Communication and managing editor of Marwasi News, and the Marketing Communications Officer for AWIMA. The Other panellists were,

· H.E. Eng. Hessa Almalek, Executive Advisor to the Minister for Maritime Transport Affairs, The UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.

· H.E. Eng. Essam Al Ammari, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization

· Dr. Omaimah Omar Bamasag, Deputy of Transport Enablement at Transport General Authority, Visiting Researcher at MIT

· Dr. Michaela Muscat Spaak, Malta Delegation to the International Maritime Organization, IMOGENder Network, LSE IDEAS Associate

· Gina Panayiotou, CEO & Founder of Oceans Areana, WISTA UK Secretary, and Board member advisor of YoungShip UAE.

· Nicola Good, Head of External Relations Lloyd’s Register

· Kateryna Yakunchenkova, Founder and General Manager ALSafina Security

· Jasmin Fichte, Managing Partner of Fitche & Co Legal, Chairwoman of Dubai Maritime Advisory Council

· Sarah Charles, Human Resources of Africa, Middle East and Asia at Svitzer

· Dr. Aysha Albusmait, IMO Maritime Goodwill Ambassador UAE and Media Expert for Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure of UAE

· Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Youssef, Associate Dean of the Maritime Transport and Technology College, The Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport in Sharjah

· Capt. Marwa El Selehdar, Manager Marine Operation, Hapag Llyods

· Sangma Gupta, Founder of Maritime ShEO, and Director for Sitara Shipping Ltd.

· Dr. Sinem Ogis, Senior Claims Executive of Türk P&I Sigorta A.S, President of YoungShip Turkey

· Dr. Ibrahim Behairy, Managing Director of WIN GD MENA

· Mahmoud Mansi, Leadership Specialists at AASTMT and Writer at the Arab Mariner

· Liv Irene Loland, Chair of ACPII and Senior Underwriter for Hydor

· Emma Howell, Director of Digital and Commercial Content for Informa Markets Maritime

· Reem Alkhowaiter, Associate Engineer of Bahri Group

A variety of questions were asked to the panellists to consider such as, what skills do women bring to crisis management and the overall industry, how has the pandemic changed how business is conducted, how can we achieve a diverse workforce in the maritime community, and what steps can professional women take to build their networks locally and across the wider region?

Dr. Capt. Ahmed Youseff presented the concept that the sector should step away from using ‘seafarer’ as the term for those who work within the industry and instead use ‘maritime professional’ to reflect the diverse opportunities and roles available. Jasmine Fitche and Katherine Yankunchejova were a few of the panellists that highlighted that they didn’t intend to enter the maritime sector initially, but found that through opportunities that were presented resulted in fruitful and fulfilling career paths. There was an agreed encouragement that the sector should work towards educating audiences on the vastness of the industry and the range of pathways that already exist and would thrive with contributions from women. Nicola Good built on the theme that visibility is still an issue with the industry and that through media operations, and rebranding approaches could be introduced to address this. Capt. Marwa Elseheder encouraged how marketing should be prioritised to tackle this issue and Eng. Reem Alkowaiter discussed how social media should be at the forefront of educating audiences. On an individual level, Dr. Omaimah Omar Bamasag encouraged that women in maritime should make themselves visible and engaged through social media platforms. She provided suggestions on how to form professional connections and expanded on the steps individuals can take to build their networks and find support through mentors. Sanjam Gupta, Emma Howell, and Dr. Sinem Ogis spoke on the positive impact of creating events like this roundtable to establish networks and connections. They presented that networking opportunities lay at the heart of establishing upward mobility for females in maritime.

When discussing what skills are essential in the industry, H.E. Eng. Hessa Almalek spotlighted that regardless of gender everyone should love their chosen career and this passion for the position will result in a continuation of learning and advancing. A portion of the segment was dedicated to the qualities that women bring to the workplace and crisis management, those of ‘awareness, vulnerability, empathy, and compassion’ were discussed by both Sarah Charles and Dr. Michaela Muscat and they agreed that while these are specific strengths women are socialized to have all employees in all sectors would benefit from applying these in the workspace. Dr. Muscat detailed that operations are financially, and operationally stronger for having diverse staff and gender represented. Nicola Good highlighted that females in the sector should have tenacity and resilience. This was echoed by Mahmoud Mansi who explained that having a higher participation of women allows for positive updates to structures creating a positive and healthy change to work environments. Liv Irene Lolland reverberated that her experience has shown her progress that was not present 25 years ago, such as the consideration of females on board ships and how to get women in key positions. She touched how the pandemic created an opportunity to continue to expand diversity.

Gina Panayiotou, Katherine Yakunchenkova, and Dr. Behairy touched on the opportunities that are within green technology advancement and how female contribution here should be prioritized. This development of the sector creates the catalyst to engage women and provide key positions. Katherine noted that these developments should encourage women’s roles in this expanding market.

Eng. Essam Al Ammari, Dr. Aysha Albusmait, and Dr. Behairy shared insight into the Middle East’s advancement of women in the industry. Eng. Al Ammari described the leadership of Saudi Arabia and how Vision 2030 works towards expanding women in the workforce through sponsorship, scholarship, and opportunities. Female leadership is evident within top leadership roles and for those just entering the workforce. Dr. Aysha Albusmait detailed how she sees the enthusiasm of women in the region in becoming involved and there is opportunity to capitalize on this through providing them with the information on maritime. She presented the recommendation that a database of information that can be used for support and creating connection would be particularly beneficial. Dr. Behairy noted how there is a success of female empowerment in the roles of finance, operations, human resources, legal, and administration but he said there should be more efforts to encourage female seafarers.

This roundtable allowed for addressing challenges that women face in the sector and present recommendations and considerations for solutions for the future. This roundtable will be replicated in the future and continue to prioritize empowerment of women in maritime.

1 view0 comments


bottom of page