Pictured: the panel discussion underway at the International Day for Women in Maritime Luncheon 2024. From left: Carlita Bloecker, My-Therese Blank, Stephanie Pickett, Vedran Muratbegovic. Photo: Shipping Australia.

IMO’s International Day for Women in Maritime celebrated in Melbourne

By Shipping Australia

Shipping Australia and the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA Australia) observed the IMO’s International Day for Women in Maritime on Wednesday 15 May this week.

Held on the 18th of May annually, as the day this year falls on a Saturday, Shipping Australia and WISTA Australia observed the Day during the week.

Pictured: a delicious main course that was served to luncheon guests. Photo: Shipping Australia.

A panel of industry leaders, comprising of My-Therese Blank (Head of Oceania Market for Maersk), Vedran Muratbegovic (Senior Vice President, Region Chair and Head of Sales – Oceania, Wallenius Wilhelmsen) and Stephanie Pickett (General Counsel of Geelong Port), discussed how can support and empower women to thrive in the shipping and maritime industries.

Ms Blank told the luncheon guests that it is time for the industry to move away from “mentoring” to “sponsoring,” to help advance the careers of female executives. She added that maternity policy could be reviewed so that, rather than women simply be given time off, they could continue to work so that they could continue to maintain their skills. She also added that the idea of supporting women to thrive should not only be thought of once a year, but rather that there should be ongoing development of women on a day-to-day basis.

Ms Pickett spoke of development plans for women and how this could be incorporated into corporate planning to make women feel safe and and with a sense of belonging. She also encouraged women to challenge the assumptions of traditional gender roles, and to be willing to put their hands up for positions that may at the first glance be beyond their existing skillset.

Mr Muratbegovic highlighted the importance for male colleagues to listen to the honest feedback from female colleagues as a way to foster trust. As a first time father, Mr Muratbegovic also reflected on the importance of having a constructive and flexible framework at the workplace for women to return to work, and not making them feel like a form of ‘inconvenience’.

The session was facilitated by Ms Carlita Bloecker, Senior Associate of HFW Law Firm and a longstanding member of WISTA Australia.

Commenting on the event, Capt. Melwyn Noronha, CEO of Shipping Australia said: “I agree that the promotion of women in the workplace ought to be done on an ongoing and continuous basis and it should be part and parcel of the culture and processes of an organisation. Women should not be disadvantaged by losing their skills because they have exercised a fundamental right to maternity leave”.

We thank the gold sponsors of this event, HFW Law Firm, for their support for this event and for championing a more diverse and inclusive industry.

The organising committee for the event comprised of Elva Zhang (Victorian State Rep for WISTA Australia; Senior Legal Counsel at CMA CGM Group Agencies Australia), Charlotte Young (WISTA Australia; paralegal of Hall & Wilcox), Carlita Bloecker (WISTA Australia; Senior Associate at HFW), James Kurz (Chair of Shipping Australia in Victoria; director of Coastalbridge Agencies) and Capt. Melwyn Noronha, CEO of Shipping Australia.

Formed in 1974, the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International) is a global organisation connecting female executives and decision-makers around the world. WISTA International serves as a connector for its network of more than 5,100 female professionals from all sectors of the maritime industry.

Shipping Australia is the peak industry body for shipping companies and associated maritime service providers in Australia. We have approximately 70 members who employ about 3,000 Australians. Together, our members handle virtually all of Australia’s container trade and a considerable portion of our dry bulk, vehicle, and break bulk trades.


Pictured from left, panelists and the organising committee: Stephanie Pickett, James Kurz, Capt Melwyn Noronha, Carlita Bloecker, (in front) Elva Zhang, (continuing on the back row) Vedran Muratbegovic, Charlotte Young, and My-Therese Blank.

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