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The Gambia Maritime Administration celebrated the International Day for Women in Maritime on 18 May 2024 at the Senegambia Beach hotel, with the official launching of the Women in Maritime for West and Central Africa – Gambia chapter. This year’s theme is (Safe Horizon: women shaping the future of maritime safety).

The International Day for Women in Maritime was established in 2021 and observed on the 18 May every year, to celebrate women in the maritime industry through the promotion, recruitment and retention of women in the sector. It further aims to raise the profile of women in the industry as part of IMO’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support efforts to address the current gender imbalance in the maritime industry.

The Director General of Gambia Maritime Administration in his opening remarks expressed gratitude in participating in the event which he said is an important milestone in the country’s drive towards women empowerment. The DG gave a historical background of women’s day which was first observed one hundred and fifteen (115) years ago in the United States of America. Women’s day was borne out of the strong determination of women to fight against oppression and inequality. It became widely accepted by other countries and the day was celebrated on 19th March 1911, to campaign for women’s right to work, vote, access education, hold public office and end discrimination.

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The DG indicated that the maritime sector in the Gambia has made some significant strides in women empowerment by appointing them to positions and giving them decision making powers. He disclosed that GMA alongside Gambia Ports Authority, Gambia Civil Aviation Authority and Gambia International Airlines under the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure created a scholarship scheme for Senior School leavers (Grade 12) to study at the Regional Maritime University and almost 50% of them are females, who are studying different maritime disciplines. Another important avenue for women empowerment is the collaboration between University of Science, Engineering and Technology- USET (formerly of GTTI) and GMA, which has introduced International Maritime Organisation – IMO mandatory courses (certificate level) for Gambians who are interested in a career in the maritime sector. This program offers young Gambians including women, an opportunity to work in ships around the world. DG Janneh pointed at the ongoing collaboration with Cruise Ship Gambia to create job placements for those who have attained the certificate from USET, to enable them work aboard cruise ships. Thus the program has now trained more than five hundred (500) Gambians, of which more than three hundred (300) have been employed by Cruise Ship Gambia; a significant number being women.

Mrs Rohey Samba-Jallow as the keynote speaker of the celebration and launching, highlighted the importance of women groups such as Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Women in Maritime. These groups, she asserted, reflect a growing recognition of the need for gender diversity and inclusion, while serving women interest in the following ways: representation and role models for women, support networks, advocacy and awareness, skills development and training, and enabling industry transformation.

Mrs Samba-Jallow stated that women groups thus, “promote gender diversity, equality and inclusion which ultimately benefit individuals, society and organisions as a whole”. She further called for the acknowledgement of of the barriers that hinder women’s participation in the maritime industry and chart  a course towards a future defined by inclusivity and safety.

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Madam Jallow proposed series of solutions aimed at shaping the future of maritime safety and fostering an environment where women can thrive and excel.These are;

·           Firstly she recommended addressing critical training needs that are comprehensive and tailored to the unique challenges faced by women in the sector.

·           Secondly she proposed prioritization of robust policies that promote gender equality and protect women from harassment and discrimination.

·           The third recommendation is to advocate for greater representation of women in leadership positions within maritime institutions and organizations.

·           She concluded by calling for working collaboratively with industry stakeholders, government and civil society organizations to raise awareness about gender equality and safety in the maritime sector.

·           Finally madam Samba-Jallow advocated harnessing the power of technology and innovation to enhance maritime safety and security for all.

The event ended with discussions among the different women participants from various institutions sharing their experiences at work.

By: Ebrima A. Bah                                                                                                                                               Communication Manager                                                                                                Gambia Maritime Administration

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