May 29th, 2019, Dubai (UAE): The Arab Women in Maritime Association (AWIMA) recently arranged its first gathering in the UAE with female representatives from both government and private sectors. The event was strategically supported by Women in International Shipping Association WISTA-ARABIA UAE. The event aimed to raise awareness about the organization, emphasize the importance of empowering women in the maritime sector and to further enhance presence in the industry.
AWIMA was established on October 19th, 2017 under the patronage of the International Maritime Organization (IMO, The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transports (AASTMT), and it includes 11 Arab countries: Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria, Djibouti, Sudan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq and Libya . The association has important objectives such as enhancing national and regional recognition of the role of Arab women as critical resources for Maritime industry,strengthening cooperation networks among Arab women in the port and maritime sectors on the local, regional, and international levels, increasing employment opportunities for Arab women at senior management levels of related sectors in maritime transport,developing partnerships and collaboration with national maritime administrations, regional entities, UN agencies and the private sector; in addition to encouraging gender equality and inclusion for Arab women in the maritime sector.
The maritime industry is a predominantly male-oriented sector worldwide, thereby making it difficult for women to join and function easily within the industry. International organizations are now making efforts to achieve an effective balance in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 of the United Nations. Aligning itself to the SDGs, AWIMA aims to not only empower women and girls, but also to equip and offer them with all possible opportunities to enhance their maritime career.
Speaking during the event, Eng. Hessa Al Malek, Executive Director of Maritime Transport for the Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime (FTA) and the President of AWIMA clarified, “With the global maritime sector being made up of only 2% of females, balancing the gender scales is a lofty task but one that I am excited to work on achieving. Our mission is to increase employment opportunities for Arab women at senior management levels of the relevant maritime transport sectors, develop partnerships and collaborate with national maritime administrations, regional entities, United Nations agencies and the private sector. We also aim to reinforce women’s engagement in the maritime sector.”
AlMalek added, “The need to advance women’s role in maritime activities has become a subject of unprecedented awareness and interest. I totally support AWIMA’s contribution to take specific measures, through its strategic planning and at the operational level of educational co-operation, to promote the increased participation of women in the maritime sector. I also believe that raising awareness about the important role of females in the maritime sector is a must. Here comes the role of the media that should signify and expose women’s distinctive achievements in the maritime sector.”
She concluded, “We all believe that women participation is vital to this industry. Thanks to the advancement of technology, the demand for physical power has been turned into a growing demand for brainpower making easier for women to fulfill their tasks in the industry. The maritime community shouldn’t only believe that women are talented and they can accomplish tough jobs, but they must be given leadership roles within the industry. This can be achieved by equipping them with the right education, training and skills in addition to empowering them within all the maritime professions.”