The Significance Of World Maritime Day

This year International Maritime Organisation unveiled the theme - "Empowering Women In The Maritime Industry", for gender equality and to empower all women and girls.

Ever felt proud by coming across any women battery rickshaw driver or women cab/taxi driver or women metro operator, then surely you’ll be full of the joys of spring while reading this composition.

On 26 September, we celebrate World Maritime Day, This year IMO (International Maritime Organisation) unveiled the theme – “Empowering Women In The Maritime Industry”, for gender equality and to empower all women and girls. Since Globally merely 2% of women are in the maritime industry and in India, it is less than 1%. Evidently, this fact demonstrates gender prejudices prevail in our country. Traditionally, the maritime industry is regarded as a male-dominated due to the great hardships of labour. Orthodox ideology regarding women as vulnerable, other domestic issues of marriage, pregnancy, menstruation are an impediment to women in this sector. Though Mary Patten, considered as first to command onboard in the nineteenth century, the world is far away from utopia.

As the wheel of time gradually moves on, in 1985, World Maritime University in Sweden gets into the new blood with four women graduates to a thriving ascension to 78 women graduates in 2018. Little by little, we are reaching towards righteousness and justice in Gender. 

Few Indian gems, iconoclastic women, breaking the conventional barriers of gender, sailed throughout the world. Following the waves of the sea, young breeze and their passion for the adventure they levitated to mark their victory in the Ocean. Their long journey of hardship has planted unbiased world for our posterity. So let’s get a peep into their ebullient saga in aqua world, across the gender and nation. 

Captain Radhika Menon

Evidently, Little hope can change the course of history when she turned the tides of seven fishermen’s fortune in the heavy rainfall at the Bay of Bengal. Failing three times, her ship Durgamma rescued those helpless men in high tides and inclemency. First woman captain in the Indian merchant navy and First women to receive IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at sea in 2016. Starting her career as Radio Officer at Shipping Corporation of India, she says ” Whatever action I take, it has to be perfect. Women have no room for mistakes in this profession – if anything goes wrong, people will be very unforgiving.” Though her parents little know about the profession, the honouring moment must have filled their hearts with pride. In 2017, she established the International Women Seafarers Foundation (IWSF) to encourage women for joining this battle of gender equality in the maritime industry, for her “Professions are not gender-based”. 

Sonali Banerjee

History of Indian Women in Maritime industry is insufficient with this small town Allahabad girl, First Indian Women Maritime Engineer, Also first women Graduated from Marine Engineering Research Institute. In her words, women are considered as “new breed of seafarers” onboard, among so many men she had to be careful not to make any mistakes, as they are waiting to argue on her determination. It’s quite disturbing that both Banerjee and Menon demonstrated similar experience onboard. With her obstinacy and indomitable spirit she opened the gates for other women in this field, we owed to her.

Reshma Nilofer

Awed by catastrophic Titanic, this Chennai girl thrilled her life in topsy turvy electrical storms. Trained at the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), she is not only the first Indian women but World’s First Women River Pilot. Though ridiculed for her obesity, discriminated in this “male territory” as she describes, with support from her family she follows her free spirits. In her words ” Break the glass ceiling so hard, and into so many tiny pieces; that every man who doubts your capability, finds those small pieces on the floor and finds it a challenge to cross those pieces!”. I think Nothing is more to say for this Durga.

Shubhangi Swaroop 

Bareilly is not only famous for its scrumptious sweets but as also for India’s first Naval Woman Pilot, she is also a part of the first batch of female officers to graduate from the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kannur.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Daughter of Naval commander and a teacher at Naval Children School, her parents always encouraged their daughter to pursue her dreams. If parents like them are present in our country, no daughter will be hesitant in choosing any extraordinary profession. This fight against gender inequality not only needs women like these but also parents like them.

INSV Tarini

Not a name of any person, but Indian Women spirit. First Indian all-women crew of the Indian Navy to circumnavigate the world in 2017, led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, Pratibha Jamwal, Aishwarya Boddapati, P Swathi, Shourgrakpam Vijaya Devi and Payal Gupta. In the country where parents are afraid to let their daughters out late at midnight or even in daylight, these women sailed independently for 194 days at sea. Jamwal opined “It is not that women don’t want to join the Navy, but it is just that they are not really aware what all opportunities are available in the Navy for women.” If India is considered the most dangerous country for women, the other side of our country is the audacity of these six women. 

Sanjan Sahi Gupta

She is awarded as Leading Woman in Shipping Business and Sandvik India Gender Awards. Since no data is available on women in maritime in India, she initiated a survey this year to collect data on Indian women in the maritime industry. The Survey can be filled up here:

She is the Director for Sitara Shipping and Astral Freight Forwarders [Pvt] Ltd. Through her programme maritime women can disclose their experiences, journey across the social norms, inspiring us to be lionhearted. 

Image via Wikipedia


About the Author


In writing, trying to find myself. In reading, exploring the world. read more...

8 Posts | 15,034 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories