Breaking the Glass Ceiling

The session stressed upon increasing contribution of women in the growth of port and shipping sector

Contribution and leadership of women in economy and trade has increased and like every sector, maritime industry is no different. Keeping this in view, South Asia Maritime and Logistics Forum had a dedicated forum for women, named as South Asia Women Forum, which was hosted by Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) in association with Maritime Gateway and Colombo International Maritime Conference (CIMC). The proceedings of the day started with welcome address by Sanjam Sahi Gupta, Founder & President, WISTA India, and Board Member of WISTA International. Capt Vivek S Anand, Director, NYK Lines (India) Ltd, in his opening remark said that half of the world’s population is women, hence they should contribute equally to the world’s resources in the form of social, education, economic and all other forms. He reminisced many initiatives taken up by WISTA India. On this occasion, Dr. Malini V. Shankar, IAS, Director General of Shipping recalled her experiences as women in public service. She women quitting jobs is a loss for the sector, and there were some challenges for women which were common in all sectors. A session was convened with the theme “Women transforming Shipping: Breaking the Glass Ceiling”. While moderating the session, Neera Saggi, Former President of Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry raised concern over falling number of women workforce in the country. Danae Bezantakou, MD, Navigator Shipping Consultants (Greece); a member of WISTA for about two decades recalling her experience in the shipping sector and managing a company founded by her parents, said that there were not many women business leaders in Greece and there were efforts being made to create more women business leaders. Olga Lazovskaya, Advisor to the President, Russian Chamber of Shipping; and Founder & President of WISTA Russia, sharing her professional journey said that she had encouraged women participation in the marine insurance industry as the sector is mostly (95 per cent) dominated by male in Russia at a time when 55 per cent of country’s work force is women, of which only 10 per cent are at management positions.

Sara Falaknaz, Chief Global Innovation Officer, DP World, UAE, stressed on the positive change in attitude taking place towards women workforce and also emphasized her company’s effort in this direction. AS Venkatesh, MD, Popular Foundations said even though he doesn’t belong to the sector but appreciated the accomplishments of the ‘better half of his life’ Vinita Venkatesh, Director, Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal. He added about engagement in many community activities in the field of women empowerment to ensure a deserving life for them. Elaborating the stand of a working lady married to a traditional Indian family, he said it was essential to convey the message to all family members about the importance and contribution of a woman professional to an industry and society which made easy to garner support in the family. Conventionally defined roles of a man and wife needed to change and mutual respect to partner’s role could help women to scale up in life. Preetika Mehrotra, Director, Regional Specialization Leader, Stanton Chase; and Executive Committee Member of WISTA Hong Kong recalling her association with maritime sector said as part of an MNC executive search firm she encouraged more participation of women in the industry at managerial positions. Notably, some of the senior leaders and dignitaries from the sector Capt. Vivek Singh Anand, Dr. Deepak Shetty, Capt. Anil Singh, and Sabyasachi Hajara, among others were present to support their women colleagues at the forum.