Calling it the “untapped sector,” the secretary-general of the United Nations International Maritime Office on Saturday pushed for the increased involvement of women in the seafaring industry saying they are the key to the growth of the industry.
Speaking during the International Seafarers Day at the SM Convention Center in Pasay City, IMO Secretary- General Ki Tack Lim said the seafaring industry should work towards attracting more women since they have proven to be as equally competent as their male counterparts.
“The importance of women as a huge source of safer sea voyage human resources cannot be overstressed. The shipping world cannot afford to ignore such rich and still largely untapped source of quality recruit,” Lim told some 5,000 marine officers, students and their families who attended the event, sponsored by SM Global Pinoy Program.
The Philippines is the world’s capital source of seafarers with some 367,000 Filipino seafarers deployed all over the world but women make up only 2 percent of the world’s maritime workforce of 1.3 million.
Lim said the greater participation of women in the seafaring industry is of vital importance given the fact that the demand for seafarers is expected to further increase in the coming years.
“Looking ahead, the demand for global fleet for seafarers is increasing and predicted to rise even further attracting seafarers particularly officers,” he said.
Maritime Industry Authority Deputy Administrator Gloria Banas agreed saying that based on their feedback and evaluation of female cadets and officers in the maritime industry, women have shown a lot of capabilities that make them at par with men.
“The thrust is really gender equality in all professions and that includes the crewing industry and women have been starting to make their presence felt because of their commitment and dedication to their jobs,” she said.
The primary consideration, she added, is their accommodation in the ships since seafaring has been a male-dominated profession since the beginning. “With the issue of accommodation being addressed, we don’t see any reason why more should not join the industry because they have proven to be an asset in any ship,” Banas stated.
Lim also lauded the investments and programs carried out by the Philippine government, through the MARINA to make sure it remains to be the crewing capital of the world. “This country has made huge collective investments in maritime education and in training over the recent years and the highly specialized training facilities you have put in place showed the commitment you have to retain the so-called crewing capital of the world,” Lim pointed out.
The event, attended by around 5,000 seafarers and their families, marked the first time the IMO head was present in the country.
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.
Organized in 1948, the IMO currently has 171 member states and three associate members.
This year’s theme is “At Sea For All” which highlights the indispensability of the seafarers and the shipping industry to people all over the world.
The International Seafarers’ Day of the seafarer is an official United Nations international observance day which takes place every year on June 25. It is organized by the IMO and aims to increase awareness among the general public of the world’s 1.3 million seafarers for their unique, and all-too-often overlooked, contribution to the world economy.
The Philippines played a key role in annual observance as the date June 25 was chosen by the IMO during the Manila Convention held in 2010 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Annie Garcia, president of SM Supermalls, said their hosting of the event is part of their commitment to honor the many contributions and sacrifices the Filipino seafarers do for their country and family.
“Thus, we salute our seafarers who stand tall in their tasks; in their duty; in their stewardship of their family. Thus, we have set aside one day every year to give due honor and recognition to seafarers worldwide,” Garcia said.
She also stated that the Global Pinoy Center present in every SM mall is a testament to their commitment to recognize the Filipino seafarer and the other OFWs and their families.
“SM Supermalls has strived over the years to requite the sterling example of the seafarer, including our OFWs whom we deem as our new heroes and pillars of the nation’s economy. Thus, we have established the Global Pinoy Center in every SM Supermall throughout the archipelago [to] cater to [their] needs,” she said.