International Day for Women in Maritime |18 May 2023
Spotlight on women in the maritime sector
Today, May 18 is International Day for Women in Maritime; a day initiated by the International Maritime Organisation to celebrate women in the industry and which is intended to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 which refers to gender equality, as well as support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.
This year’s theme is 2023 is ‘Mobilizing networks for gender equality’.
In Seychelles, despite the gender imbalance in the industry, more women are slowly joining the maritime sector in various positions including, captain, skipper, lawmakers, or administrators, and they are thriving. Today we look at four Seychellois women in the maritime sector and their role to raise women’s profile in maritime.
Aaishah Latifha Molle
Aaishah Latifha Molle is Attorney-at-Law, AMG Law Chambers. She was recently appointed by the Office of the President as the new chairperson of the board of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority, which administers, regulates, coordinates and oversees all maritime affairs. The 36-year-old mother of three, who is married, owns her own private practice, AMG Law Chambers.
Mrs Molle specialises in Maritime Law after completing a LLM in International Commercial and Maritime Law from Swansea University. Following her studies, she joined the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (now Authority) in the post of Legal Officer and then joined the Attorney General’s Office where she worked before opening her own practice.
Mrs Molle has always had a keen interest in admiralty law and matters relating to seafarer’s rights and as a result decided to specialise in this field. She stated that the maritime sector is a vast industry with both shore-based jobs and jobs at sea, where there are always job opportunities and room for growth in terms of continuous learning and training.
“On the International Day for Women in Maritime, I would encourage all women and young girls who aspire to join any sector within the maritime industry, to do so and to take the first leap. Taking the first step can be in the form of a simple advice from someone already working in the industry, starting a course, or even applying for that job. If you do not take that first step, then you will never know how fulfilling it is to work in this industry. I would also urge other women who are paving the way, to give a helping hand to those who have just started, to be supportive and be a mentor. Everyone’s journey is different; however, we must surround ourselves with a strong and supportive network. Let us empower other women to join and pursue a career in the maritime industry.”
Dora Henry, 51, is the Assistant Human Resource Budget Management Officer at the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority. The mother of one from Perseverance joined the authority in 2020 and has gained a lot of experience and knowledge on how to manage the daily operation of the human resources of the organisation, making it more productive and powerful, to be able to meet the standards of the organisation.
“I love working with the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority (SMSA) as it is the regulatory and supervisory body within the Ministry of Transport, whose primary objective is to ensure that all mariners without exception, use and enjoy the seas of Seychelles and other water bodies in a safe and lawful manner, as well as ensuring security and pollution prevention. My role as HR Personnel is an important one as I recruit staff and ensure they stay with the organisation. It also entails staff welfare, budget planning of the day to day running of the organisation, training development programme for the staff, and I am also involved in decision-making within the management to improve the organisation’s strategic goals and objectives. As a woman in the maritime sector I would like to empower and raise awareness to other women and urge them to join the maritime community. There are a lot of opportunities in the sector. Women should not be afraid to work in a male-dominated industry as we bring a new perspective and leadership style, which are beneficial to the industry.”
Veronica Bristol is a member of Womesa Seychelles. She was one of the founders and former chairperson of Seychelles Chapter, inaugurated on September 26, 2017 during the 8th annual general meeting of the Association for Women in the Maritime Sector in the Eastern and Southern Africa.
She is also the current chairperson of the Network for Women in Marine Science (WiMS) which falls under the umbrella of Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA). The network was launched in Dar es Salaam during the 10th WIOMSA Scientific Symposium in 2017 to address the gender equality issues that are facing women marine scientists in the Western Indian Ocean region. She was elected as the Chair of the Committee during a meeting in Nairobi in December 2018. Ms Bristol is the owner and general manager of her own business, One-Stop Beauty & Outfits Parlour. She is passionate about the maritime industry and interacts with a wide range of stakeholders in the marine sector around the globe. As chairperson of WiMS, she is currently working on a Term of reference for Seychelles’ Country Chapter, which she plans to launch during the third quarter of the year.
“The maritime industry is 'within my vein' and will remain part of me. The interest began in 2014, when I joined the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) as a Support Officer and formed part of the senior management team of the Academy. With the strong desire and determination to remain in the maritime industry, in 2020 I joined the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) as the Global Membership Coordinator and also as the Assistant Director of FiTI Association. Little did I know that I was moving towards the marine science field. The greatest satisfaction from looking behind off my achievements is to see the difference I have done in the lives of young girls and women in the marine industry. These are from empowering young girls through various presentations at secondary schools to join the maritime industry and also presentations at the A-Level school to join the first ever Cadet Officer group at the SMA, leading them to the CoC as Navigation Watch Keeping Officers. My message to the young girls and ladies is to be brave and never to give up no matter the many challenges. I had encountered several challenges along the way as this field is seen as a male domain. Nevertheless, keep striving and keep pushing. Look at me as a model, I am not a scientist, but I was elected to be the chair of an international association. I'm not a director general in the Maritime Authority but I was invited by IMO and Ghana Maritime Authority to participate in the Green Shipping Conference in February 2023. So, all we need is to prove ourselves to the wider community.”
Chantal Poonoosamy has been working with the Hunt Deltel company for the past four years as an Administrative and Communication Executive for the company and its subsidiaries. She said that since joining the organisation in May 2019, it has been a journey of not looking back but rather forward.
“Although the ocean has always fascinated me, I never imagined working in the shipping and logistics industry. I joined WOMESA last year, and it opened my eyes to all the opportunities available in the marine business. I work with a diverse group of managers, each specialising in a different element of our company. This helps me to realise and appreciate how extraordinary Hunt Deltel is. When your duties range from communicating with captains at the marina one day to arranging with our boarding team for services for a fishing vessel the next, it is safe to say that no two days are ever the same.
As we celebrate the International Day for Women in Maritime today, I would like to offer some advice to the ladies: if you are interested in joining a marine or shipping profession, go for it without hesitation; if you are smart and dedicated, there is no limit to what you can do. You never know where the road will take you, so make the most of every opportunity”.
Compiled by Patsy Canaya