Today, on Seafarer’s Day, we appreciate the extraordinary women who are part of the maritime industry, paving the way for aspiring women seafarers. These remarkable individuals are part of the Australia Awards Maritime Scholarship Program for women, an initiative established through a partnership between Australia Awards PNG and Steamships Trading Company. This program goes beyond addressing the global shortage of female seafarers—it is a catalyst for gender equality and empowerment.

Through the Scholarship Program, these determined women are unlocking their full potential and embarking on successful careers within the maritime sector. Starting as deck and engine cadets, they undergo a rigorous three-year training journey that includes comprehensive studies, practical experience in port operations, and hands-on training at sea. Equipped with extensive skills and knowledge, they emerge as competent officers, ready to shape their own destinies alongside their male counterparts.

“The scholarship has given me the opportunity to challenge societal norms and pursue my dream in the maritime sector. I want to break barriers and inspire other women to follow their passion,” says Delailah Denguo, one of the program’s cadets.

Halky Tun Bomai, another cadet, shares her motivation, saying, “As a child, I was captivated by the majestic ships passing my home. I wanted to uncover the mysteries of the sea and fuel my curiosity. This scholarship has made my dreams come true.”

Zipporah Naguwean, eagerly anticipating the challenges ahead, recognises the importance of technical knowledge and working harmoniously alongside her colleagues. “I am excited to face the challenges that lie ahead. This program will equip me with the skills and confidence to succeed in a male-dominated field,” she expresses.

The program’s accomplishments to date are remarkable. Of the 10 women who graduated in 2021, all, all secured employment with prestigious shipping companies. These success stories serve as beacons of inspiration, encouraging future cadets to dream big and seize the opportunities that lie before them. Currently, 19 talented women are enrolled in the scholarship program.

“The scholarship has changed my life. We were lucky enough to sail on international seas to get the unlimited license that qualifies us to sail overseas in the future,” affirms Eddesha Aigil, one of the ten female pioneers of the Cadetship.

Australia Awards PNG has been an invaluable partner in supporting the PNG Maritime College (PNGMC) and strengthening its capacity since 2018. Together, they have implemented various capacity development initiatives, including enhancing e-learning capabilities with the installation of an E-library and Telikom fibre optic cable. Training qualifications for Heads of Departments have been upgraded, multifunction and Student ID card printers have been provided, and student counselling training has been conducted. The program has also focused on improving female dormitories, leadership workshops, and ensuring the highest quality of training through a needs analysis report.

For these women, the Australia Awards PNG scholarship has provided significant support. It signifies an opportunity to excel in a career that was once closed off to them, where their talents were overlooked. The program empowers them with technical expertise, certifications, and the confidence needed to contribute meaningfully to the development of the maritime industry.