SHM Shipcare’s motto is – Safe sea, Safe shores.
The company highlights the importance of the safety of both ships, equipment and human resources. Hence one of has always been SHM Shipcare’s pillars is the safety of women in their fraternity. While they insist on a safe and welcoming space for women in maritime, this year, they had the opportunity to take an initiative to support the IMOs theme of the year – Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.
#CWIM2019- Celebrating Women In Maritime, a union of voiced issues and implementable actions regarding women empowerment, pivoted our focus on the state of women in maritime.
The panel discussion organised in Mumbai by SHM Shipcare was indeed lively and informative.
Each of the panellists was interesting in his or her own right; however, when put together on the same stage, it was more effervescent than one could’ve had expected.
The discussions spurred one’s thoughts about some realistic solutions to incorporate more women in maritime and incorporate the two genders.
Saifuddin Hajee, Chairman, SHM Shipcare commenced the event with his wise words and stirred up the issue for the evening. “Gender parity is a mindset that can be achieved through a positive outlook. This call for change is less about policy making or reservations but about changing the belief system. I feel it is up to the leaders to make this a positive change in their organisational culture. The rest will fall into place automatically.” he said as he brought the issue into the spotlight.
The panel discussion moderated by Mr.Aliasgar Hajee, Managing Partner at SHM Shipcare began by greeting and introducing all the dignitaries.
The chief guest, Shri Amitabh Kumar, D.G.Shipping was the first dignitary who urged every leader to incorporate women into the sector with a 4 fold strategy of Encouragement, Retention, Refocus and Leadership. He believes this will boost the numbers if absorbed by all segments of the industry.
Capt. Raj Razdan, Provost, Tolani Maritime Institute angled the discussion from his experiences at the institute. He stated that parental support and encouragement is the key when female aspirants aim for this industry as a career.
Hereafter, Capt. Suneha Gadpande, Master Mariner, CMMI was the voice of the women seafarers that evening. She conveyed that women need a chance to prove their potential without any such special privileges over the other gender. These views, equipped with experience and rationality, definitely served as inspiration for the female aspirants present at the event.
After a judiciary view, educational aspect and some motivation from a seafarer, we explored the corporate scenario for women in this sector. Mr David Birwadkar, Vice President, Training and Assessment, The Great Eastern Shipping Company familiarised us with the aforementioned scenario. He explained that an imbalanced gender ratio at corporates is undeniable yet not impossible to tackle. The gap, he says, can be reduced by making corporates conducive for women and also with improved conversations between the employees.
To further the judicial point of view, Ms Sanndhya Pillai, Maritime Lawyer spoke of the hurdles women face in this sector. She verbalised how society’s perception of a woman and her traditional role is the biggest hurdle any seafarer faces. She believes that women are empowered enough, they just need society to be more accepting of their career choices.
Then came into perspective the viewpoint of the woman whose contribution to the sector is exceptional at an administrative level. Mrs.H.K.Joshi, Chairman and Managing Director, Shipping Corporation of India voiced quite the essence of the issue by highlighting how the gender equilibrium of the society shall be maintained in the fraternity. Women stepping out of their traditional roles shall not be considered competition but lauded for their courage. She sincerely believes that empowerment doesn’t begin at the corporate or national level, but at home.
Another aid to our corporate insight was Mr Suresh Jandial, Executive Director, ONGC who symbolised how lack of change of mindset is the biggest challenge to us. He believes both genders shall work cordially and weave a sustainable society for themselves. He claims that incorporating more women and bridging the gap will automatically put women on the administrative pedestal. Sensitization programmes, according to him are a necessity in every organisation to improve the state of women in any sector.
After a brief Question and Answer round with the audience, the focus was shifted to the young aspirants from Tolani Maritime Institute, Pune. The holistic approach towards women in maritime made them aware and ready for the challenging industry. They expressed their moment of inspiration after having gathered first-hand experiences from the women in maritime. It was a truly enriching event to attend.
Saifuddin Hajee, Chairman, SHM Shipcare took the stage yet again to address all the attendees and culminate the event with a few words. He spoke about his belief that ship owners and employers need to realise the importance of employing women and the tangible benefits that they offer to the industry. He urged that policies are of no use until entrepreneurs, owners and employers show an improved mindset and become the change-bearers.
He also claimed that SHM Shipcare successfully employed 20% of women as their managerial workforce. Their potential added value to the company and their contributions are crucial to the industry, he concluded.
Along with the informative panel discussion, SHM Shipcare also felicitated women from all walks of maritime and lauded them for their contribution to the fraternity. The felicitations were a mark of respect and empowerment to forge ahead and do more in the fraternity. SHM Shipcare’s philosophy and belief harmonized with radical solutions from the dignitaries and audience definitely made it a success.