Women shaping the future of maritime: Jaeda Sutherland

By Climate Champions & Lloyds Register Foundation | May 16, 2024

Women who work in maritime are urging more people to look at how they can make a difference in the sector as part of the ongoing work to shape its future.

In 2021, women accounted for less than 2% of the global seafaring workforce, but by 2050 this could grow to 25%, according to the Global Maritime Trends 2050 Report.

To mark this year’s International Day for Women in Maritime, Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the Climate Champions Team heard from women committed to creating a just, net zero and resilient sector.

Jaeda Simone Sutherland, a Belizean native born on 4 May 1998, is a passionate advocate for gender equality, maritime industry advancement, and environmental sustainability. Hailing from Hattieville Village in Belize, Jaeda embarked on her academic journey with an Associates in Literature from St. John’s Junior College before pursuing a Bachelors in Business & Enterprise from Edinburgh Napier University. With plans to further her education with a Masters in Maritime Studies, Jaeda is committed to deepening her knowledge and expertise in the maritime field.

Currently serving as a Project Officer at the Belize Port Authority, Jaeda plays a pivotal role in advancing initiatives that promote safety, sustainability, and growth within the maritime sector. She also proudly represents the maritime community as an Ambassador for the Maritime SheEO Community and holds the esteemed position of President of the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (Belize Chapter).

A devoted advocate for women’s empowerment, Jaeda utilizes her platform to champion gender equality and amplify the voices of women in traditionally male-dominated industries. With less than five years’ experience in the maritime industry, Jaeda’s dedication and passion have already made a significant impact, driving positive change and raising awareness of the importance of maritime affairs in Belize and the wider Caribbean region. As a mother and dynamic leader, Jaeda is committed to shaping a brighter, more inclusive future for generations to come.

What was it that inspired you to work in maritime? 

Jaeda Simone Sutherland

My inspiration to work in the maritime industry stems from my upbringing in Belize, where the sea is not just a geographical feature, but a vital aspect of our national identity and economic livelihood. My journey into the maritime field was somewhat unforeseen.

Truthfully, like many young professionals, I was searching for a career path that would offer both personal fulfilment and professional growth. A more accurate question would be, what inspired me to stay in maritime? In answering this, I must express that I am and will be eternally grateful to the Belize Port Authority for opening a door of endless knowledge and opportunities for myself and colleagues. The Authority has ultimately become the cornerstone of my maritime journey.

What truly inspired me to remain in the maritime sector was the profound impact of the opportunities provided by the BPA. Throughout their initiatives, I have found myself immersed in a world of endless learning and networking possibilities. From engaging on a local level, to participating in global conversations about the future of maritime, I have found a sense of purpose and significance in my work, knowing that we are affecting change. BPA has shaped my career trajectory, but they have also allowed me to meet women in this industry that are fighting to dominate as well, which has fuelled my passion for advocating for a more inclusive, innovative, and sustainable maritime future.

Who do you see as inspirational women in maritime and what is it that you think they are achieving in terms of shaping a sustainable maritime future? 

In reflecting on inspirational women in maritime, I am fortunate to be surrounded by a multitude of remarkable individuals who are driving positive change and shaping a sustainable maritime future. Among them, I draw inspiration from women such  as Ms. Darlin  Gaitan, second female Ports Commissioner of Belize Port Authority, Ms Felicia Cruz, Director of Ministry of Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, Ms Annette Garel, Deputy Registrar of IMMARBE, Mrs Arlene Young, Director of Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute, Mrs Estella Bailey-Leslie, Comptroller of Belize Customs & Excise Department and the list goes on.

All these women embody resilience, break barriers, and are paving the way for gender diversity in traditionally male-dominated sectors of the maritime industry in Belize. Women like them are leading the charge in championing sustainability, advocating for eco-friendly practices, and fostering inclusivity. These women are pioneers in promoting gender diversity within male-dominated sectors; through their efforts, they are fostering an environment of empowerment.

How do you see the role of women in shaping the future of safety measures in maritime? 

Women play a crucial role in shaping the future of maritime safety measures in maritime by bringing diverse perspectives, problem solving skills, and attention to detail.

The contributions of women are becoming increasingly recognized and valued across various roles, as they make efforts toward the shaping the future of shipping, whether as captains or cadets, electricians, or engineers. As more women join in on the ranks of the shipping industry, they will act as catalysts of change, creating a more balanced workforce that delivers real value in an ever-changing world. As safety advocates, women contribute to developing and implementing robust safety protocols, training programs, and risk management strategies.

What barriers or challenges do you think need to still be overcome to achieve this? 

Unfortunately, there are still deep-rooted stereotypes and biases that continue to hinder women’s advancement in the maritime industry, perpetuating the belief that certain roles are more suitable for men. Overcoming these stereotypes requires proactive efforts to challenge gender norms. Under-representation in leadership roles is also plaguing the industry, and we must address structural barriers and promote gender diversity in leadership and career advancement.

What are your hopes for the future direction of maritime? 

My hopes for the future of direction of maritime are rooted in a vision of inclusivity, sustainability, and innovation. I envision a maritime industry that embraces diversity and equity. Who really believed a year ago, that this sector would become so important to international trade? We have not even reached the full potential of the maritime industry, so I know that progress is coming. I envision an industry where women and men are fully integrated across all sectors of maritime. I aspire to witness the many advancements bound to come in technology and digitalization as we enhance safety, efficiency, and connectivity in the sector.

What would you say to any girl or woman thinking about a career in maritime? 

To any girl or woman considering a career in maritime, I would say: Embrace the opportunity with confidence and courage. The maritime industry can offer a rewarding career path of endless possibilities for growth. Don’t let stereotypes deter you, instead, leverage all the things that you are ridiculed for and carve out your place in this field. Surround yourself with mentors, allies, and supportive networks such as the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean that will empower you to succeed and thrive. Remember, you matter. The maritime world awaits you, and together, we can chart a course towards a safe horizon, shaping the future of maritime safety.

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