I don’t want to celebrate women in maritime

Well, it’s women’s month here in South Africa and the calendar is filling up with webinars addressing women’s issues in the maritime space. Equally my social media feeds are filled with posts from a number of maritime stakeholders celebrating women in the sector.

I applaud the efforts that companies and organisations are making to focus the attention of the predominantly male industry on the successes of, as well as the plight of, their women colleagues. And I am excited to read posts about amazing women standing out and breaking the stereotypes associated with the industry.

But the more women we see holding positions traditionally dominated by men, the less we will need to seek them out or hold them up as something that is an anomaly. Because, you see, I do not want to continue celebrating women in maritime as something weirdly special – I want women to be commonplace and removed as a token target on some score sheet.

And while there are plenty of amazing women in the industry – we are still scrambling to find and promote them because we still know that we need to prove that there is a space for women here. The stereotype is that it is not a “natural fit” and that those women that are in the sector are champions for the future.

Sadly we are not yet in that future so let’s celebrate the achievements of maritime women this month. But let us not do it to be seen to be relevant – let us do it to be real.

The reality is that celebrating the achievements of these women can create a rather one-dimensional conversation. I hope we can do better than simply holding a one dimensional conversation this month and I aim to attend a number of the virtual events that are being hosted to get a better understanding of how this dialogue is evolving.

Events on the calendar to diarise:

  • 06 August @ 15:00: Institute for Security Studies – How can we draw women into the Maritime Industry¬†
  • 18 August @ 11:00: South African International Maritime Institute – Re-imagining 2020: navigating the equality agenda in an era of COVID-19 (registration link TBC)
  • 21 August @ 10:00: eThekwini Maritime Cluster – Navigating the Role of Women in the Maritime Industry (registration link TBC)
  • 31 August: South African Maritime Safety Institute – TBC

From my perspective, and hopefully in a bid to get real and not simply be relevant on social media, I will be inviting a few women to join me in a new segment on our platforms: On the Quayside where we chat about real issues in an honest way.

You will find links to these conversations on our FaceBook page, via Twitter and LinkedIn.

1 thought on “I don’t want to celebrate women in maritime

  1. Good Day Colleen,

    I am 100 fully behind your observation in the industry and there needs to be action outside the Boardroom and Webminar talks around the issue of Women supported participate in the industry.

    As uncomfortable as it may be but it can’t be just a discussion of one month every year otherwise the industry can never be transformed.

    And yes I am male with two daughters whom one day I would like them to take over from me but not in this environment.

    From: Unathi Sonti (Eastern Cape Maritime Business Chamber – Chairperson)

    Like

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