A 2007 initiative of the World Maritime Organization (WMO), the principal objective of the Womesa Organisation is to to advocate for gender equality, improvement of women’s access to maritime training and technology and promote their advancement to key decision-making levels in the maritime sector.
During the last week of September 2017, members of the Womesa Organization gathered at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort for the 8th Womesa Conference.
Hosted by the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration, the event presented an excellent opportunity for enlightening exchanges of life stories & lessons, personal & national accomplishments as well as collaborative planning towards achieving the goals of Womesa.
It was a fitting moment for discussion on topics of regional pertinence, such as the particularities affecting women’s involvement in the maritime sector of Small Island Developing States out of which representatives of Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar were present.
Ms Nozipho Mdawe, Director General of PMEASA (Port Management Association of Eastern & Southern Africa) gave a heart-warming contribution of her story from teenage pregnancy to further education, strategic career advancement and work/life balance. “Challenge yourself to evaluate your progress at least every five years. Ask yourself how you can push your own boundaries and go further, do better. Don’t be afraid of going beyond your comfort zone and don’t forget to let loose from time to time!” she advises.
Ms Elizabeth Marami, the first female sea captain of Kenya spoke of her own journey of finding herself on her maritime path thanks to a mixture of her mother’s intervention, her own perseverance in the face of male intimidation and some very positive interactions with male professionals in her line of duty. “Just when I thought I had no choice but to throw in the towel, I was given the nudge I needed to really commit.”
On the Seychelles ‘team’, aside from the organizing committee who worked alongside their overseas counterparts to put together the conference, our little speck of paradise was proudly represented by Ms. Rebecca Lousteau-Lalanne, PS for the Blue Economy, who gave a passionate overview of the country’s progress in the Blue Economy and Ms. Helena Sims, Project Manager for Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning.
An Introduction: Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning
The Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning Initiative is a process focused on developing and implementing an integrated marine plan to optimize the sustainable use and effective management of the Seychelles marine environment while ensuring and improving the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of its people.
The planning covers the 1,374,000 square kilometres of the Seychelles’ EEZ and planning tools are built on a framework focused on five key marine themes in Seychelles as developed through stakeholder consultations, being Fisheries, Biodiversity Conservation, Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Non-renewable resources and Tourism & Recreation.
Building on stakeholder input maps are created showing what is known about the ocean environment around the Seychelles and how people use it. Layering and analyzing these maps helps plan multiple and sustainable uses of the ocean.
The initiative is led by the Government of Seychelles with planning and facilitation managed by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with the UNDP GEF Programme Coordination Unit. An executive Committee approves MSP outputs, a high-level Ministerial committee with representation from all key sectors involved.
The initiative was launched in 2014; Phase 1 outputs are expected by the end of 2017 with the complete plan scheduled to be finalized by 2020, following which regular reviews and adaptations will need to take place after the scheduled implementation in 2021.,
Outputs include an MSP Atlas and a spatial data catalogue as well as decision-support tools for decision-making now and in the future. Once completed, the SMP will be the second largest in the world and the first in the Western Indian Ocean.
Funding to support the project is in part from the Seychelles Conservation & Climate Adaptation Trust, created as a result of the Debt-for-Climate-Change-Adaptation swap in 2015.
MSP Website http://seymsp.com/
The Womesa conference 2017.
Representatives of both private organizations and government bodies were in attendance - L-R - SPA, Hunt Deltel, AG's Office, MTC, Socomep, SMSA, MFA, Seypec.
Capt. Marami (left) and Veronica Bristol (right)