7 minutes reading time (1358 words)

Speech by Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization

Madam Keynote Speaker
Gender Minister
Gbeme Horace-Kollie

Cllr. Neto Zarzar Lighe
Commissioner & CEO
Liberia Maritime Authority

Executives of LiMA Here Present

 Madam Manu Kamara
Director Corporate Social Responsibility
of LIMA and Her Team of Organizers who
Weaved Together This Important Occasion

Our hardworking and brilliant women of the Liberian

Members of the press

 Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen 

Today marks a very important and compelling moment for women in the maritime industry—locally and globally. To the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) and all sectors in the marine industry, today’s celebration of International Day for Women in Maritime echoes a rallying call for bold and resounding action in the maritime world.

I am deeply pleased and ecstatic to be joined with you wonderful mothers and sisters to celebrate this important day of women in the maritime industry worldwide. I am hoping that this ceremony, which is given much emphasis in Liberia this year, would lay the path for substantive discussions geared towards prioritizing women in the maritime industry at large.

Liberia, as a renowned player within the global maritime industry certainly shares the duty with all IMO member states not only to celebrate this day with the planning and execution of a colorful event, but to take genuine and deliberate actions to significantly mitigate the gender gap beleaguering the maritime sector locally and globally.

As one of the notable frontrunners in global maritime affairs, Liberia should endeavor to be fully compliant with IMO's rules and regulations, as well as honor all IMO resolutions and amendments—especially those ones on which it has inked its signature. It is only by genuinely doing so can Liberia distinguish itself with greater eminence within the realm of the IMO and the global marine landscape.

Consequently, one very important IMO Resolution Liberia must honor is Resolution #A11.47 (31) which emphasizes the role and involvement of women in the maritime sector globally. By affixing its signature to this resolution, Liberia has the obligation to recruit more women in all sectors of the maritime industry, provide them equal opportunities with their male counterparts, and duly promote them to leadership roles.

In 2021, the IMO Assembly adopted this resolution proclaiming an International Day for Women in Maritime to be celebrated on 18 May every year. In the texts of the resolution, it is emphatically stated that the day is primarily meant to appreciate and celebrate the contribution of women in the industry. It also principally underscore the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women, as well as raise the profile of women in maritime locally and globally.

Henceforth, IMO Member States, the maritime industry, advocacy groups, and all others in the maritime endeavor are encouraged to promote and celebrate the International Day for Women in maritime in an appropriate and befitting manner, like we are effectively doing here now. Thanks to the organizers, and many thanks to Commissioner Lighe for his support which essentially demonstrates his desire to take women along in the growth and development of the Liberian Maritime industry, and to even push our women to the global spectrum of maritime affairs. As Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO, I am standing firm with Commissioner Lighe to make the case for the inclusion and promotion of Liberian women and women around the world at all levels of the global maritime enterprise.

The resolution further seeks to strengthen IMO's commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5 which compels Member States to uphold and support the concept of ‘Gender equality’. By this resolution the IMO is courageously and decisively taking bold and affirmative actions aimed at tackling head-on the pervasive gender imbalance in the maritime sector globally.

Here, I should state how heartbreaking it is to know that the total percentage of female seafarers working in the maritime industry globally is just 2% according to IMO statistics. This equates to approximately 24,000 women seafarers out of a total global workforce of 1.89 million. This disparity is egregious, despicable, disheartening, and I must state loudly, UNACCEPTABLE. Women, in this new era of civilization and emerging realities should not and must not be treated with such harsh inequality, depravity, and exclusion. This must change!

I, therefore charge that deliberate and sincere efforts be brought to bear by all member states of the IMO to address this disturbing and shameful inequality and disparity. The need for the Liberian maritime industry to play a leadership role in changing this unpalatable and depressive narrative over the next decade and beyond cannot be overemphasized.

However, the level of attention the full complement of the Maritime Authority (LiMA) has given this day, specifically this year, certainly emphasizes the collective relevance and interest we have attached to the core concept for which this day has been set aside. I can assure you that with Commissioner Lighe, a fine gentleman who is quite passionate about gender equality and women development, leading the charge, the Liberia shall join the league of maritime nations in fostering new agendas, carving new policies, and taking bold and pragmatic steps to change this ugly narrative and ensure gender balance and diversity in the industry with time.

The theme of this year's celebration of International Day for Women in maritime; “Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety”, anchors a ray of hope to women in the maritime industry and those aspiring to pursue a marine career, that gone are the days where the maritime industry will be a man’s turf or a space solely dominated by men while women are subjected to lower levels even when they possess the requisite qualification. IMO says NO to a male-dominant maritime industry and is calling on all member States to conform to the Resolution which compels the recruitment, protection, promotion of women, as well as engendering equality and diversity in their respective maritime industries. And I know, without a doubt, that with Commissioner Lighe’s contemporary leadership style coupled with the support of our dear President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Liberia will fully conform and do better in giving women equal chance in its prosperous Maritime Industry. I also call on other sectors in the industry (Coast Guards, Seaports, NAAFA ect.) to put similar unwaivering emphasis on women.

As your Permanent Rep to the IMO, I can doubly assure you, that I will be aggressively making the case in the global maritime circles for training and employment opportunities for Liberian women, so as to prepare and ready them to share in the opportunities and possibilities the global maritime industry provides.

In ending, I like to congratulate all our women in the maritime sector to include, the Maritime Authority, Coast Guards, Seaports, NAAFA and other facets of the marine industry here at home and those on the global fronts, for the invaluable contributions they continue to make towards the burgeoning advancement of the maritime industry. I admonish you to remain firm and unyielding in pushing for your fair share of the opportunities this industry provides. However, I must challenge you to be ambitious and competitive as you seek for equal opportunities and greater involvement in this industry. Remember, nothing good come on ‘silver platter’, you must earn it. And once again, we are committed to lending all the support we can to assist you fully participate in the competitive space of the marine industry here and abroad. 

Let me close with this thought I often share when I speak at occasions or teach at various universities on the role of women in this new age of civilization: Women, like men have great talents and in some cases, greater talents than men. Why not tap into their talents and make the world a better place? Excluding or depriving women has only robbed the world of a huge potential to grow and become more prosperous. We must end the primitive mentality of suppressing women under the guise of male supremacy. It is really not supremacy, it is instead insecurity if not absurdity. Give women a chance, and make the world a better place. Why not?

Happy International Day for Women in Maritime! And thank you for the honor of addressing this unique occasion.

Salute and God bless you!

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