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HIP joins WISTA Sri Lanka to build gender diversity awareness

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The booklet on gender diversity being handed over to Vessel SHOHJIN Capt. Md. Wahidul Haque by WISTA Sri Lanka President Rukshila Anthony. Staff of HIP and representatives of WISTA Sri Lanka were also present at this ceremony 

In a bid to increase awareness of gender diversity in the workplace, the Hambantota International Port (HIP) partnered with the Sri Lankan arm of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA). The association together with the port team launched a program for ships calling at the Hambantota Port.

The seafaring profession is largely male-dominated. As stated in the IMO report of 1992, women accounted for only 1-2% of the 1.25 million seafarers in the world. As such women represent an untapped resource for crewing the world fleet and addressing the current labour shortage. According to the IMO report of 1997, women are an under-utilised and underdeveloped resource which could provide part of the solution to the problem of crewing the future world merchant fleets.

Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) CEO Ray Ren said: “It is probably due to the male-dominated factor that women have not considered career paths in the shipping industry very seriously. No doubt that seafaring could be a challenging job for women, and that is the reason why proper safeguards are a requirement. Women may fear to enter this profession as they would anticipate facing harassment and little support from their co-workers, considering seafaring has so far been known to be mostly an all-male environment. This needs to change and we believe this program we have launched with WISTA Sri Lanka is an initial step on our part in impacting this sector.” 

HIP kicked off the program at an event held onboard vessel SHOHJIN, which called at the port recently.  A booklet on gender diversity was presented to the captain of the vessel Md. Wahidul Haque at the ceremony. The port plans to hand over a book to each vessel that calls at HIP from now on.

The publication by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd. and the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) addresses issues for behaviour between men and women working together onboard. 

It addresses major challenges of discrimination, sexual harassment, isolation and attitude and aims to encourage seafarers not to turn a blind eye to the issues, but to make a conscious effort to be more sensitive to individual differences onboard. The book encourages above all to show respect both in thought and in action, especially since more women are now being employed as seafarers. 

Industry leaders and legislators have recognised the importance of this human element and the booklet has been compiled with the intention of educating and training not only current, but the next generation of seafarers on how to adapt to changes in society and the industry. 

HIP is in the process of broadening the scope of their workforce, creating equal opportunities to all, especially opening up jobs for women in the area.  

The gender diversity awareness campaign is spearheaded by WISTA Sri Lanka and sponsored by HIP.  WISTA Sri Lanka, a member of WISTA International is part of a global organisation connecting female executives and decision makers around the world. WISTA International serves as a connector for its network of more than 3,000 female professionals from all sectors of the maritime industry. 

More than 40 countries support the National WISTA Association (NWA), each of which in turn is a member of and is guided by WISTA International. WISTA International has received Consultative Status by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) governing body, the IMO Council, giving them the opportunity to promote diversity, inclusion and women’s empowerment in the Industry.

Attending on behalf of WISTA Sri Lanka were Association President Rukshila Anthony, Vice President Catriona Jayasundera and Press Committee and Media Coordinator Head Ishani Caldera. Also present at the ceremony were Ray Ren, HIPG COO Tissa Wickramasinghe, HR GM Jeevan Premasara, Sylesh Peerez GM Sylesh Peerez, Senior Manager – Commercial and Marketing Chandula Rambukwella, Manager – Port Related Industry Sabrina Edirisinghe, Executive – Commercial and Marketing Jayathmi Gamachchige and Graduate Trainee – Commercial and Marketing Ewmi Kurukulasuriya. 

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