An association of Vanuatu women in maritime has been launched after years of work towards achieving this aim.

VANWIMA, the Vanuatu Women in Maritime Association, was launched Monday by the Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat, who is minister responsible for maritime services. The launching came at the opening of the Maritime, Safety and Energy Efficiency Workshop at The Melanesian hotel in Port Vila.

Mr Napat said he believed the establishment of VANWIMA will help manage and clear paths for Vanuatu women to serve in the maritime sector.

“It will work inclusively for the sustainable development of a sector that is critical to everyone. It will also promote human capacity development and employment of women in all aspects within the maritime sector.

“The association will ensure strategic leadership and serve as a voice for gender empowerment within the sector.

“I guarantee that the association will support the advancement of women in the maritime sector in Vanuatu,” Minister Napat insisted.

Thierry Nervale, Deputy Director, Oceans and Maritime Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division of the Pacific Community said SPC has been supportive for year to establish a regional network of women in maritime. And to this aim, national chapters have been established in several countries until now in Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Fiji, and now in Vanuatu. Preparations are taking place for establishment of the Tuvalu and Solomon Islands chapters and all these will be major achievements for women in maritime in the Pacific.

“SPC is very proud to be behind this major development and thank you minister for your words to support this achievement for Vanuatu WIMA,” Mr. Nervale added.

He explained that VANWIMA falls under the auspicious of PACWIMA, Pacific Women in Maritime Association, which was established in February 2005 under the guidance of IMO’s gender program for women in the maritime sector with the assistance from the SPC regional maritime program.

Mary Navaika, Administration Manager in the Office of the Maritime Regulator, and the President of Vanuatu WIMA said in administration, in ports and in ships, women are always there.

She said last year they formed a committee for the association and they’ve been working on a constitution, which they hope to have it approved in the next two weeks.

“There’s still some work to do to have the association fully functioning. The launching is very important because all women will know that there is now an association of women in maritime and will help us to finally get the association fully functioning.

“We’ve attended some regional sessions which have given us more insight into what women maritime is about.”