May 18th, International Day for Women in Maritime – Bonaire women in Maritime

This is the first year that Bonaire will also observe the International Day for Women in Maritime.

Door Monalisa Domacasse

The Bonairean maritime field is male-dominated. When it came to sea-life, traditionally men did the boat handling while the females stayed home to take care of the household. Women were seen as the center of the house where everything evolved. They took care of the children; taught them norms and values. 

There were also women who were physically strong and started doing the same type of work as men. Many times these women were forced to do this in order to survive because either they were single mothers or the men stayed away for most of the year. These women were seen as fe’males’. Society did not take kindly upon them.

Through the years, because of the remarkable persistence of these women, the road has been paved for more women to choose for careers in fields that are male-dominated. These ladies pierced through the societal classification of jobs that made it difficult for other women to venture in different fields.

For this occasion Bonaire Port wants to put 2 females in the spotlight: Nicole Madlener and Kia-San Silberie.

Nicole is a pilot boat operator. 

The work mainly consists of assisting the pilot. She takes the pilot to and from a ship and the rowers to their workstation when the ships arrive. From time to time she also assists with rescue work when a vessel is in trouble. 

What draws you to this job:

I love the feeling of freedom at sea! Every day is a different day, which makes the job so diverse and exciting. I also love the technical and maintenance that comes with working on board. 

Some of the machines and other operational mechanisms made it virtually impossible for a female to enter these fields in the past but now the situation is changing. Technology has virtually balanced the workspace; “works that in the past demanded physical manpower had changed as machines are now being used to manage these, this makes it flexible for the female to also operate it.”

What are some of the challenges you face as a woman?

People assume you can’t handle the job. Even though I don’t always have the muscle power to do all things there are other ways to get the job done.

What are you, as a woman, most proud of in terms of your work in the maritime field?

That more and more women are choosing to start their carrière in the maritieme work and kick ass with doing so!

Kia-San, 28,  is the financial administrator/planner. 

She works on the planning and logistics of the cruise ship, the cargo and other vessels.

What draws you to this job

I grew up in a family who were all sailors and fishermen. So when I found this job, it was the best of both worlds. Maritime and Financial administration.

What are you, as a woman most proud of in terms of your work in the maritime?

That I’m the only female in the office! I feel that, even though I am the only  female in a so-called male-environment, I am treated with respect.

What do you think the future of maritime looks like for women coming into the workforce?

I believe it’s amazing! More and more women should work in the maritime field. There are different areas where you can function as a female. 

The long-term goal of Bonaire Port is to encourage recruitment and more participation by women in the maritime sector.

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