It was the first time that a Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) AGM and Conference has ever been held in the Caribbean, let alone the Cayman Islands, so it was with a justifiable sense of pride that WISTA Cayman Islands President Sherice Arman welcomed the delegates who came here from all over the world who were all gathered at Grand Old House for the opening ceremony:
“We have more than thirty nationalities here tonight. Here we are celebrating the power of WISTA,” Ms Arman said. “We are all here because somebody believed in us. In my case, it was my mother. She believed and nurtured and encouraged us and told us that education would give us all of the opportunities that we ever wanted in life and it is to her example that I must look when considering the role that we must play in mentoring our young people and nurturing them in their aspirations.
“The Cayman Islands was built on the back of seafarers. We chose the theme: Founded upon the seas,” and many people didn’t understand why. I hope that by Friday, you will have understood,” Ms Arman continued. “I would like you to please stand and salute all of the seafarers of the Cayman Islands who have gone before us. Every single family in the Cayman Islands has a seafarer in their heritage.”
At the end of an inspiring message, Ms. Arman asked the DJ to play, ABBA’s Dancing Queen, for all the women who have achieved great things, in a sector which has been traditionally dominated by men. “I have waited a very long time to play this song, in this setting for this exact group of people,” she said.
Hon Tara Rivers Minister for Financial Services “I believe WISTA’s structure, run by professional women, such as its President Charise Arman gives women a greater voice in Cayman’s Maritime industry. It’s a great reflection of the power we as women yield as we come together for a common cause, whether in this jurisdiction, or around the world. As a woman, as a mother, as a female elected official, and a former Minister of Gender Affairs, it is with great pride that I can celebrate this gathering of women tonight. I salute you, and all the work that you do.”
President WISTA International Despina Panayiotou thanked the Cayman Islands Government for helping to support the conference, and also thanked everyone who had worked so hard to make such an achievement possible.
One of the Delegates, Marcell Vargas from the Dominican Republic said: “It is very inspiring to see other senior maritime professionals, all women trying to support each other and learn from on another’s experiences. The Maritime industry is primarily dominated by men, both in the sea and on shore, so it is important for us extend our voice because we are present in this sector and we have a voice and we don’t only want to do administrative or clerical tasks; we want to make decisions and we want to be represented on the table that makes the big decisions of the sector.”