Today, Monday 25 May 2020 – By Kitiona Tausi
The Tuvalu Women in Maritime has celebrated its first year after its revival in 2019 last Friday, 22 May 2020.
Attending this celebration were more than 40 women representing island communities, staff from the National Council of Women, staff from the Ministry of Transport, Energy and Tourism, port workers and those who have interest in women in maritime business.
The President of the Organization, Mrs. Vasa T. Saitala said last Friday’s celebration was also to celebrate the International Day for the Women in Maritime.
Among the invited quests was the Australian High Commissioner to Tuvalu, Her Excellency Karyn Murray, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Transport, Energy and Tourism, Mr. Avafoa Irata and the Director of the University of the South Pacific Center in Tuvalu, Ms. Rosiana Langi and Mrs. Oliula Kalahati who led the opening prayer.
The organization was first established in 2005 and sadly it did not function until 2007 when it disappeared.
In 2015, the issue was raised to the ministry and in 2016, the organization was revived and in 2017, the National Council of Women was involved and representatives from island communities attended the meeting and officers were selected.
Mrs. Vasa T. Saitala was elected President and Mrs. Selepa Kausea representing Funafuti was elected Vice President. Mrs. Luifou Kokea representing Nanumaga was elected Treasurer and Mrs. Puaolele M. Siose representing Nanumea was elected Secretary. Two committee members were Mrs. Eseta Soloseni representing Nukulaelae and Ms. Afasene Iosefa representing Nukufetau.
Mrs. Tuisiga said that following the revival of the organization she had the opportunity to go for studies in Malta. On returning from Malta, she worked on developing a constitution for the organization and on 22 May 2029, the organization was legally registered.
Mrs. Saitala had her training in Malta at the International Maritime Law Institute and she graduated with a Master Degree in Humanity. She said that there two other Tuvaluans who studied before her at this same university in Malta, Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli and Mr. Simon Kofe who graduated with Master Degree in Legal Legislation.
There are similar Women in Maritime Organization in PNG, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati and Cook Islands and Niue just formed its organization this year. So the Tuvalu Women in Maritime Organization is now regionally and internationally recognized.
According to Mrs. Ielemia, the purpose of the organization is to attract women in maritime jobs. Women can serve in many maritime jobs. They can work as lawyers, administrators, as ships officers or even as seamen.
“In the past, seafaring was only a male business and now it is any body’s business including women and we are trying to encourage girls and women to be attracted to serving in maritime jobs,” said Mrs. Ielemia.
In the meantime, the organization is trying to run an awareness program in schools, especially at Motufoua and Tuvalu to encourage girls to have interest in maritime business sector.
During last week’s celebration, a cake was brought forward to be cut in celebration of both the International Women in Maritime as well as the first year of the Tuvalu Women in Maritime after it has been legally recognized in Tuvalu.