Last year, International Maritime Organization (IMO) designated 18 May as the International Day for Women in Maritime. To this, SMOU collaborated with Pacific International Lines (PIL) and organised a series of ship visits to celebrate the female seafarers and distribute care packs to the crew onboard.
General Secretary Ms Mary Liew, Emeritus General Secretary Mr Thomas Tay, Assistant Treasurer Mr Tan Geh Ting, and Young SMOU Chairman Mr Dominic Yong were joined by PIL Assistant General Manager Ms Tracy Gao, Deputy General Manager Chu Xing Peng, and Deputy Manager Ms Yu Har for the visit to ships.
Prior to the easing of COVID-19 measures, visitors of the port were only allowed to meet crew members at the gangway. With the recent easing of measures, SMOU and PIL officials were able to go onboard the ship to catch up with crew members. SeaVoices had the opportunity to meet and converse with two female seafarers on the ships.
In an interview with SeaVoices, when asked about how she feels about the IMO dedicating a day for women in maritime, Bernice said she feels excited that women are gaining so much more recognition in the maritime industry. She views this as an encouragement for females across the globe to join the industry. On the value of female seafarers, she feels that women bring a different perspective onto the vessels, perhaps even fresh ideas. The one thing that she is grateful to her male counterparts for, is that because she is small in stature, she can always rely on them to help her when needed. She added how SMOU advocates for seafarers and is thankful to the Union for giving females a voice and fighting for seafarers’ rights. “It’s assuring to know that there is someone backing us from shore. It’s comforting to know that there is someone who understands our challenges and we feel heard. It makes us feel great.”
When SeaVoices chatted with Christina, she mentioned how it is good to have a specially allocated day to celebrate women in this career. As this industry is male-dominated, she feels very honoured and happy to let the public know that there are females working in this industry. She commented how females may be disadvantaged in the physical aspect, as some things are heavy and high, but boasts how females persevere and try their best to work around this. She added how there are times when she is the only female on board and it might get a bit lonely as there are some things that females are unable to share with the male crew members. However, a little perk she discovered with being a female in this line of work, is that she finds it easier to talk to shore personnel as “they will extend more help to me as a female.”
The series of care pack distributions to commemorate International Day for Women in Maritime is imperative to let women know that they are valued in the maritime industry and that their efforts be recognised and not undermined.
SMOU wishes all women a happy International Day for Women in Maritime! Thank you for your dedication and defying the odds. May you continue to be the beacon of inspiration to other women in the world.