Breakbulk Middle East smashes glass ceiling with record female participation
Breakbulk Middle East, the GCC’s leading breakbulk and project cargo event, is doing its part to actively build up the female maritime landscape.
This year’s two-day conference will be held under the patronage of Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, the UAE Minister of Infrastructure Development and the Chairman of Federal Transport Authority for Land and Maritime and will feature a variety of industry women in leadership roles.
The exhibition which is set to take place on the 11th and 12th of February at the Dubai World Trade Centre, in Dubai, UAE, will move the sector one step closer towards gender equality within the industry.
Speaking on this year’s decision to increase female inclusion, Leslie Meredith, marketing director, Breakbulk Events & Media said the move was part of the event’s efforts to address topical issues.
“Like any session, at every other event from the Breakbulk global portfolio, we are always keen on addressing what is topical; what challenges are facing the industry and a variety of other stimulating discussion points,” she said. “Due to the complexities of shipping, many issues are topical and gender equality is one of them.”
“Reducing the discrepancy between male and female employees, as it pertains to international maritime, is essential for the development of the sector as the experience and expertise that women can provide, whether it be legal, technical, operational or otherwise, will only help in enhancing the industry as a whole,” she added.
Hessa Al Malek, executive director, Maritime Sector, Federal Transport Authority for Land and Maritime added: “By incorporating a strong presence of maritime women with leadership roles in this year’s event, Breakbulk Middle East is demonstrating great advocacy for the concept of gender equality within the industry. Through this inclusion, they are not only empowering the current generation to continue striving for greatness, but they are also inspiring our future leaders.
A paradigm shift with challenging barriers
Familiar with the intricacies of being a female and navigating a male dominated industry to earn respect is Jasamin Fichte, managing partner, Fichte & Co Legal and president of WISTA Arabia.
“Over the years there has been a gradual shift and the industry has become more accepting of the fact that women are equally capable of industry successes,” she said. “As a result, doors that once appeared to be bolted shut have been unlocked, allowing females in maritime to achieve new heights.”
Tina Benjamin-Lea, logistics manager at SNC-Lavalin and a member of the Advisory Board at Breakbulk Middle East, added: “Women have always contributed to all aspects of our industry, as Project Logisticians delivering projects in often challenging locations, Shipbrokers fixing cargoes, and Cargo Superintendents and Marine Warranty Surveyors loading cargoes on ever growing scales in ports across the globe.”
“In today’s world, Diversity and Inclusion are key drivers and such women in Logistics and Maritime should play an active role in reshaping industry perceptions. SNC-Lavalin is committed to supporting women across all business sectors and developing local talents in the Middle East that can take the lead in creating a better future for generations to come.”
Specializing in global security solutions, Katherine Yakunchenkova, general manager, Al Safina Security Group stated, “Rapid growth of innovations and new technologies that shape the shipping world, such as usage of blockchain, robotic processing systems, drone deliveries, and eco-friendly ships provide the industry possibility for a big leap in operation efficiency. Technological changes are accelerating and tech trends will contribute stupendously into economic growth that I find remarkable. Through my career, I have witnessed a transformative power of gender diversity meeting more women represented in the technology fields.”
Suha Abdulla Obaid, deputy CEO, Folk Group said, “Despite women forming nearly 40% of the global workforce, the amount of women involved in international maritime is only a mere two percent. This number encompasses all aspects of shipping, ranging from primarily seafarers to only a few top-level executives. For that reason, bridging the Maritime’s gender gap is an issue that must be addressed and an initiative that Breakbulk Middle East appears to be taking seriously.”
“Although the industry has become more aware of the benefits that come with reducing the gender imbalance, continuing to promote this concept on the significant channels of exposure is a crucial element to combatting the disparity,” she added.