Breakbulk Middle East Digital Special emphasizes the contribution of women to the industry’s success

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Breakbulk Middle East (BBME), the GCC’s leading breakbulk and project cargo event, held under the patronage of The UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, will be presented digitally this year. Titled Breakbulk Middle East Digital Special, the new version of the much-awaited event, will take place on February 9-10, 2021. The next in-person event is scheduled for February 2-3, 2022 in Dubai with DP World, UAE Region as the Host Port.

The two-day event will feature experts, speaking about critical issues, right from tackling the pandemic, lessons learnt from it, project outlook for the year and beyond and the need to shape the minds of young aspiring professionals. The Women in Breakbulk Leadership Forum will be one session that will feature successful women leaders who have been taking their firms and the industry to newer heights. Through this enlightening session, the event hopes to attract talented women from the industry, nurture aspiring women professionals and retain outstanding talent.

Breaking the glass ceiling

Since its inception, Breakbulk Middle East has highlighted topics of strategic importance in the industry. Focusing on women professionals, who have significantly contributed to industry growth, has been one of the core themes of the event. Through the Women in Breakbulk Leadership Forum, the primary aim is to be able to bridge the gender gap in the breakbulk and project cargo industry. 

H.R.H. Princess Sarah Al Saud, Director of Maritime Business Development at the International Forum for Maritime Transport, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Alexandriaasserted, “The industry is male-driven and this is a known fact. However, today with women excelling in every sphere, we are seeing the trickle effect in our industry too. Over the years, the representation of women in leadership roles has drastically increased. According to Grant Thorton’s Women in Business 2020 report, in 2019, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29 per cent. This goes on to show that the world and people’s mindsets are changing. I firmly believe that women have the power to not only help the industry thrive, but they can also play a huge role in the success of countries around the world. It is inspiring to see events like Breakbulk Middle East that are giving us women a platform to speak and discuss our journeys.”

Noura Al Shamsi, Head of Community Engagement, The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport Branch in Sharjah said, “Having a diverse workforce changes the dynamics of the industry. Every individual, irrespective of gender brings to the table something unique. At the Academy too, we are constantly working towards encouraging young women to chase their dreams of being a part of the industry. Almost 43 per cent of our students at our Academy are women. We can proudly say that we have the highest percentage of female maritime students in the MENA region. We are hoping to bring about a change in this regard, but there is still a long way to go. And we are confident that our partnerships with events like BBME Digital Special will help us in this endeavour.”

Speaking about the need for awareness about women working in the breakbulk and project cargo industry, Nicola Good, Head of Brand & External Relations, Marine & Offshore, Lloyd’s Register explained, “The local community has a huge role to play. It is all about building awareness about the industry. People aren’t aware of the fact that the industry exists and that women too can work in it. This prevents us from getting people engaged in the industry. Though I must say that countries around the world and organizations like the IMO are doing their bit to ensure that women get their due credit for contributing to the growth of the industry.” 

Inspiring young women professionals

Women make up a mere 2 per cent of the world’s maritime workforce that includes 1.2 million seafarers. This number encompasses all aspects of shipping, ranging from seafarers and only a few top-level executives. To ensure that this figure sees an increase and more women gain recognition, platforms like Breakbulk Middle East are integral because they inspire young women who aspire to join the global maritime workforce, motivating them to work towards achieving new heights. 

The Women in Breakbulk Leadership Forum will feature two sessions – The Many Paths to Female Leadership: A Career Blueprint and How Women Are Contributing to a Post-COVID Business Recovery. Both sessions will highlight topics ranging from career journeys of women leaders, women’s contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of women leaders to enhance the growth of companies and more.

Ghazalah Moloobhoy, Director, Moloobhoy Marine Service LLC said, “I am thrilled to be a part of Female Leadership session at Breakbulk Middle East Digital Special. The industry has ample scope for women to contribute in various roles and we must speak about it. Over the years, Breakbulk Middle East has demonstrated great support to achieve gender equality within the industry. This year, the Digital Special too has women from a multitude of sectors in the industry, who will not only share their many achievements but also dole out career advice to inspire other young women. This is what the industry is in dire need of and I feel honoured to be able to do that.”

Kateryna Yakunchenkova, General Manager, Al Safina Security asserted, “There has been a gradual shift and the industry has become more accepting of the fact that women are equally capable of participating in the industry’s success. Companies are now becoming aware of the many changes that women can bring about with their quick thinking and problem-solving mindset. Even during a crisis, I think women are genetically engineered to be calm and composed. They have the ability to use these innate traits to benefit the organizations they work in.” 

Year after year, Breakbulk Middle East addressed the challenges women face and their success stories. The 2021 virtual edition will do just this yet again with a global audience. The on-demand sessions will be accessible to all from anywhere in the world.

Leslie Meredith, Marketing Director, Breakbulk Events & Media said, “With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry witnessed a downturn. Yet when it came to Breakbulk Middle East, this year, we worked harder to ensure that our supporters don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear from industry experts, both men and women. We will always support the women’s cause in the industry and this year even though we are going virtual, things will not be different. We have successful women, who have achieved great feats as part of both our sessions. We are confident that our attendees will be truly motivated after participating in these sessions. Our ultimate goal is to be able to do all that we can to promote the growth of the industry.”

Breakbulk Middle East Digital Special will be free for all. A detailed schedule of the event will be released soon. Breakbulk also recently launched the Breakbulk365 program that includes engaging webinars and the BreakbulkONE Show to ensure the project cargo industry stays connected and updated on insights and regional information at all times. To receive the weekly BreakbulkONE newsletter, sign up at http://breakbulk.com/page/one.

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