Maritime sector committed to empowering women

The maritime industry in NZ is committed to working to empower women in the industry.

The Maritime NZ Board hosted an event in Tauranga to commemorate this year’s World Maritime Day “Empowering women in the maritime community.”

The event included a panel of high profile women in the NZ maritime industry who led a discussion on why empowering women in maritime matters and how industry and Maritime NZ can work together to attract more women into maritime careers both here and across the Pacific.

Panel members included Jo Brosnahan, Maritime NZ Chair, Sara Lunam, Corporate Services Manager for Port of Tauranga, Lucy Hogan, NZ Merchant Service Guild, Louise Struthers, Chief Executive Strait NZ, Margaret Wind, Executive Director Marine Transport Association, and Louise Deehan-Owen, Academic Lead NZ Maritime School.

The aim of the panel was to kick start a programme of work within the industry which will lead to the development of a strategy that can be used sector-wide to attract more women to careers in maritime.

Maritime NZ Chair Jo Brosnahan said, “I was impressed and inspired by the strong and clear leadership, and by the openness and authenticity demonstrated by the women who joined us to talk about their thoughts on empowering women in the maritime community. It is clear that this work is important, necessary, and needs the commitment of everyone in the maritime community – not just the women.”

Executive Director of the Marine Transport Association Margaret Wind said “Empowering women starts from when they’re girls. It’s up to those of us who have been in the industry a long time to make sure that the girls and young women who are joining know that we’re there to support them and be their champions.”

The event was well attended with representatives from all areas of the industry sharing their views and ideas on why empowering women in maritime matters and how we can expand the involvement of women in our maritime sector.

The feedback included a number of questions to consider, including how to identify and address the barriers to women entering the maritime sector – barriers that can be practical, cultural, and related to making maritime careers visible and creating viable options for young women. There was strong support for acknowledging the benefits that a more diverse workforce would bring to the maritime sector, and commitment to making positive and sustained progress to inclusion and support for women in this vital industry.

Sara Lunam from Port of Tauranga pointed out “Empowering women makes good business sense. Having women on site is proven to lift productivity overall and improve work group dynamics.”

Lucy Hogan from NZ Merchant Service Guild shared some of her own experiences and said “Harassment is real, for men as well as women. We need to tell the stories so we can do something about it rather than keep avoiding the hard stuff.”

Louise Deehan-Owen who is a senior lecturer and Academic Lead at the NZ Maritime School added “We are seeing more women come through the Maritime School. The next generation expect equal treatment for all. We need to ensure that the students entering the Maritime sector have the tools to deal with confronting situations and understand their role in supporting each other.”

Maritime NZ will be now be working with the maritime sector to put the ideas that came up at the World Maritime Day event into action.

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