GAC Folk

4thoughts from Shehara Jayawardana


“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”

Kofi Anan

The world has come a long way since the time when London shopping centres didn’t have ladies’ restrooms or young girls like Malala Yousafzai had to risk their lives for the right to an education. Empowering girls and women is powerful for us all. We know it is the key to economic growth, political stability, and social transformation. Studies show that companies with gender diversity make good business sense and that they post stronger results than companies that don’t.

Gender Balance

“How important it is for us to recognise and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”

Maya Angelou

Shipping is often said to be a male-dominated industry and in many parts of the world, it still lags behind in terms of representation of women. Many of the barriers to women being employed in traditionally ‘male’ roles are ingrained in cultural norms and socially-accepted practices. I believe that every position should be granted on merit and by the capabilities of the best person for the job, not their gender. I don’t advocate diversity at the cost of competence nor am I saying that women are better than men. The drive to open up more jobs to all should be accompanied with parallel discussions and review on competence, commitment, and character.

HE for SHE

“It is time we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two opposing ideals.”

Emma Watson

I am an active member of WISTA (Women's International Shipping & Trading Association). It’s an organisation that works for the development of the maritime industry through education and training, providing its members with a networking platform and encouraging qualified women to join the industry. However, though that work is important, I believe it is even more important to achieve these goals in partnership with men, by galvanising as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change.


“One child one teacher one pen and one book can change the world.”

Malala Yousafzai

Education is key, especially for future generations. I teach my sons that girls are as strong as boys and the importance of mutual respect for all human beings. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks. I wonder, if industry allowed an adjustment for this, would the so-called glass ceiling be shattered? Well that’s a debate that won’t end soon!

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