Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Gender equality is recognized as a key platform for a sustainable future. Women form an integral part of the maritime workforce, contributing to the success of shipping companies, ports, onshore services and more. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) in recognition, has declared 18th May as the IMO International Day for Women in Maritime. The day celebrates women in the industry and 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 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.

Celebrating the Inaugural IMO International Day for Women in Maritime, the Navratna National Shipping Company, the Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. (SCI), organized a Flag Off Ceremony of m.t. Swarna Godavari on 14th May, 2022 with an all Women Merchant Officers’ Fleet from Jawahar Dweep oil terminal, Mumbai. The ceremony was graced by The Hon’ble Union Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs and Union Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi as Chief Guest, Director General, Directorate General of Shipping, Shri Amitabh Kumar, IRS as Guest of Honour, and other honored guests from Consulate of Japan & media fraternity. Capt. Priyanka and CEO, Supriya Doke, were also present with Officers of the Sailing Team.

This is the second of the exemplary voyages that SCI has sailed towards promoting diversity and inclusivity in the Indian Shipping Industry while making global footprints. Notably, SCI for the first time in the global maritime history has achieved the feat of executing an All Women Officers’ sailing on board a cargo vessel, m.t. Swarna Krishna from JNPT to Vadinar on the eve of International Women’s Day 2021. 

CMD SCI, Smt. H.K. Joshi welcomed the dignitaries and thanked Hon’ble Minister, Consul-General of Japan and other guests for gracing the occasion and encouraging SCI’s efforts in this landmark voyage. She urged all the women seafarers to inspire at least five other women aspirants to join maritime career, thus, achieving a multifold growth in the women participation. She further stated that continued exclusion of women or failing to support the many women who have pushed past out-dated gender norms and made great strides in improving the participation of women in maritime would be a travesty of justice. This sequel initiative is to progressively encourage and demonstrate the women power to Maritime Industry, which will only augment in the years to come.

The heartfelt message received from Mr. Amitabh Kumar, DG, Shipping was also read out who applauded the sincere efforts taken by SCI under the dynamic leadership of Smt. H.K. Joshi in demonstrating that there is no deficit in knowledge or skill or bravery or entrepreneurship when it comes to women Indian seafarers. He further emphasized in his message that M.T. Swarna Krishna and M.T. Swarna Godavari carries this proud tradition forward and gives a clear message to the world that Indian Women seafarers are fully prepared not only to be the master of their own destiny but to also lead the world maritime industry.

Dr. Fukahori, Consul-General, Japan lauded the initiative and mentioned it as a challenge to the world shipping in undertaking such breakthrough steps to diminish the gender gap. He stated that through this voyage, SCI and Government of India has demonstrated an exemplary leadership at a global front, and made all of us proud.

The Captain and CEO of m.t. Swarna Godavari narrated their experiences in maritime career and the requisites for sustenance and excelling in the sector. A silver plaque was also presented on the occasion by Smt. Lekhi to the Captain of m.t. Swarna Godavari, as is customary in recognition of the Team Swarna Godavari’s valour and courage to commence the exhilarating voyage.

On the occasion, Hon’ble Minister Smt. Lekhi ji revived the memory of courageous Rani of Jhansi and also recollected the remarkable contribution of Smt. Sumati Morarjee in the formative years of Indian Shipping.  She further stated that Indian women have always been at the forefront in all spheres of progress and today constitute a share of 48% in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) graduates. However, extremely low share of women in Maritime Industry depicts an enormous scope for improvement. Government of India is continuously encouraging the empowered women to take lead in various progressive initiatives for the benefit of society. She applauded the Team SCI in its resolute efforts towards such landmark initiatives and admired the professionalism of SCI women officer in undertaking voyages of critical cargo, such as crude oil.