July 03, 2024

Empowering Women in Maritime

In an industry traditionally dominated by men, the maritime sector is experiencing a notable transition towards increased gender diversity and inclusion. Amid this movement, the SOUTH AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL MARITIME INSTITUTE is active in empowering women to take on leadership roles across different maritime sectors.

The South African International Maritime Institute’s (SAIMI) commitment to gender equality is evident in its Accelerated Development Programme for Women in Maritime Leadership (ADPW). Developed for SAIMI by the Nelson Mandela Business School, this programme forms a cornerstone of the Imbokodo in Maritime Transformation Programme, dedicated to breaking down the proverbial glass ceiling for women and fostering a more inclusive maritime sector.

“The Accelerated Development Programme for Women in Maritime Leadership exemplifies the dedication to providing women with the skills, resources and opportunities needed to thrive in leadership roles within maritime. Equipping women leaders with the tools to succeed not only transforms individual lives, but also drives positive change throughout the sector. Our commitment to gender equality is unwavering and we will continue to champion diversity and empowerment in all aspects of our work,” says SAIMI CEO Odwa Mtati.


Launched in October 2022, the ADPW was instituted after consultations with key stakeholders such as WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association). It represents a bold step in addressing the longstanding gender imbalance within the maritime industry. Through a carefully curated curriculum, the programme equips women leaders with the skills, knowledge and strategic insights necessary to thrive in today’s dynamic maritime landscape. From leadership essentials to strategic management, the ADPW covers a range of modules designed to empower delegates to navigate the complexities of leadership with confidence and competence. By providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment, SAIMI ensures that women in the maritime sector have the opportunity to reach their full potential and make meaningful contributions to the industry. The second cohort of the ADPW, comprising a diverse group of 19 officials, including returning participants and new intakes, underscores the programme’s growing impact and reach. The programme offers face-to-face sessions aimed at fostering collaboration, networking and knowledge exchange among participants. Nozipho Booi, a participant from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), expresses her organisation’s dedication to fostering women’s leadership and development as well, stating: “The boardrooms within TNPA reflect this commitment.” Booi emphasises her interest in the technology and project management modules offered by the ADWP, highlighting their importance in maritime operations. Another participant, Mariette Weyers of Siyaloba Training Academy, adds that the ADWP has been most useful for those in training and development. “Staying abreast of maritime developments is paramount to providing our trainees with current and effective skills,” she says. The ADPW stands as a significant programme within SAIMI’s broader efforts of actively collaborating with various partners on initiatives aimed at advocating for meaningful change towards a more inclusive future within maritime. The institute looks forward to collaborating with WOMESA (Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa) and WISTA in programmes that support women’s empowerment.


Tandiswa Jacobs from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment underscores the significance of the ADWP in addressing critical challenges facing our oceans. Responsible for Oceans and Coast Compliance and actively engaged in the working groups of Operation Phakisa, which aims to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans, Jacobs recognises the pivotal role of maritime technologies in mitigating marine pollution and supporting sustainable development. She emphasises the importance of initiatives, such as the ADWP, in equipping professionals with the knowledge and tools to address complex maritime issues and contribute to preserving marine ecosystems. “By empowering women leaders, SAIMI seeks to support initiatives that drive positive change throughout the maritime industry. SAIMI is working towards a future where diversity and inclusion are not just aspirations, but realities,” says Mtati.

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Issued by SAIMI


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