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International Women’s Day – “Women In Maritime – Finding Our Space”

International Women’s Day : Women from The Bahamas share their maritime stories

To mark International Women’s Day, The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) hosted a virtual round table forum featuring a number of the amazing Bahamian women working in maritime worldwide. Female employees of The BMA from around the globe attended the event along with many others from the shipping sector. The Board wishes to thank all parties who participated for the contribution they have made to our industry.

Under the theme “Women In Maritime – Finding Our Space”, BMA Board Chair Ambassador Denise Lewis-Johnson, BMA Board Director Jasmine Davis and BMA Board Director Pamela Gomez were joined by Juanita Butler of BMA Japan office, Isabella Jones of the BMA London office, Director General Sharon Brennen-Haylock of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dr Stephanie Hutcheson of the University of The Bahamas.

Ambassador Lewis-Johnson, The BMA’s Board first female chair, welcomed all to the virtual forum. She highlighted the shattering of the glass ceiling in the male dominated maritime industry and recognised that it is incumbent upon her to perform above and beyond the highest standards in order that the next female chair will be appointed without reservation.

Juanita Butler
BMA Registrar

Juanita Butler, the BMA Registrar in the Japan Office, shared her experience of transitioning from manual to computerised systems and the different circumstances of working in individual BMA offices over the course of 25 years. She has worked in London, New York, Hong Kong and Japan and described how it felt to be working in countries where people had no knowledge of The Bahamas or even where it was located.

Isabella Jones
BMA Seafarers & Manning Department

Isabella Jones, who was recognised as one of the 100 top women in shipping in 2020, provided an insight on her maritime journey and how she searched out where she fitted in both the office and in the industry itself – her personal ‘space’. She explained how her journey included spending two years working on cruise ships. She committed herself to learning more about the human factor of shipping and expanded her education. Ultimately, she discovered that, notwithstanding the fact that she was female, her professionalism, dedication, passion and hard work would transcend colour and gender, and preconceived notions.

Director General Shanon Brennen-Haylock spoke about the wonderful achievements of the women within The BMA, in particular Ambassador Lewis-Johnson. She emphasised that every woman has the right to strive to do the job she wishes to do and that every woman is as capable as a man and should be financially rewarded equally. Women bring different leadership styles and perspectives that are gender sensitive. She also stressed the importance of women acting as mentors and role models for young girls today, not only in the maritime industry but throughout society.

Bringing the round table to a conclusion, Dr Stephanie Hutcheson, an expert in the field of psychology, talked about the importance of good mental health, particularly during a time of pandemic and all the restrictions resulting from it.  She gave a practical and heartfelt presentation on strategies we can all employ to improve our mental health and increase our mindfulness at this stressful time.

This fascinating and informative forum was rounded off with a Q and A session which raised the important issue of how the maritime industry can attract the young women who will be the mariners of the future – an issue close to The BMA’s heart. The BMA not only runs a cadet programme, The Bahamas Maritime Cadet Corps, but also offers university scholarship to support young Bahamians who are keen to train for a career in the shipping industry.  

The BMA Board is honoured that so many peopled participated in the “Women In Maritime – Finding Our Space” forum. For those of you that missed it, please click on the link to listen to the discussions.