By Ligaya Caban



At the IMO conference in Dili, Timor Leste, last November 9th, two Filipinas were elected to key Wima-Asia posts for 2018-2019: Merle Jimenez- San Pedro as head of Wima-Asia Governing Council; the other, Sonia Malaluan as treasurer.


Both are representatives from WIMA-Phil.


Wima-Asia was established in 2010 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in consonance with its program on the “Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector.” The Philippines hosts the Secretariat.


Fifty delegates representing 14 countries—Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam– participated on the theme, “Transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”


The push.

They were tasked to draw a strategic framework for measures to help meet, in particular, SDG 5 which is to “achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.”


WIMA-Asia joins other regional WIMAs in pushing for female empowerment and to increase participation in the maritime sector where career opportunities are available to women.


An aggressive campaign to spread information on these is being launched in all regional WIMAs, including those in the Pacific Islands (PacWIMA), the East and South African region (Womesa), the Caribbean (Wimac), and the Arab region (Awima). A WIMA in Latin America is expected by December.



Putting up national WIMAs is expected from regional WIMAs to serve as agents for localizing the latter’s programs. WIMA-Phil prides itself to being the first to be established. It offers the best example in bridging the WIMA-Asia program for the MDGs, and has become the model for establishing national WIMAs.


Regional WIMAs believe national WIMAs could hasten the mobilization of women in maritime across the globe and, thus, contribute to the realization of UN Agenda 2030.



Plotting WIMA–Asia’s Action for the Future demands identifying goals and performance indicators to support a five-year strategic action plan for WIMA-Asia to allow for the achievement of SDGs and identify the work program for 2018.


The vision prioritizes the empowerment of Asian women as leaders in the maritime industry.


WIMA–Asia aims for regional Integration, support, and cooperation of women in national maritime associations for the promotion of greater and active participation on SDGs, including those relating to safety, security, environmental protection and trading throughout Asia.


Strategic framework.

  1. Advocacy programme in promoting SDGs (women in maritime as stakeholders)
  • Create process to meet existing gender quotas in IMO affiliated universities to ensure participation of WIMA-Asia applicants.
  • Provide consolidated regional updates to IMO on the activities of national chapters.


  1. Capacity-building
  • Mentoring programme and career counseling
  • Educational exchange program
  • Specialized committee establishment to share best practices
  • Hosting semi-annual webinars.


  1. Partnership development with government, industry, IMO, and other international and regional organizations and civil society
  • Scholarship fund for WIMA-Asia through collaboration and partnership with maritime universities and specialized training institutes
  • Leveraging knowledge of existing national chapters to share best practices for establishing national chapters.


  1. Communications and visibility

* Website containing a data base and directory of WIMA–Asia members and employment/internship opportunities

* Hold WIMA-Asia conferences, rotating between member states

* Creation of WIMA–Asia facebook/social media page

* Highlighting accomplishments of WIMA–Asia members (“woman of the year”/individual profile from each national chapter)


  1. Sustainability

* Establish national WIMA chapter in every WIMA-Asia member country

* Creation of WIMA–Asia memorandum of association to establish management and technical committees for the purpose of giving national chapters a voice at IMO


Council Work Program.

  1. Consulting with IMO
    1. For the creation of national chapters and WIMA-Asia memorandum of association guidelines.
    2. On how women from countries without WIMA national chapters can access to educational and training opportunities
  2. Creating WIMA-Asia website to link to national chapter social media pages, as well other regional WIMAs
  3. Establishing member database including contact information and areas of specialization to support mentor program
  4. Identifying mentors and areas of career specialization
  5. Collecting annual reports of activities from country representatives
  6. Developing schedule of webinars for professional development
  7. Conducting the WIMA-Asia conference for 2019


Full roster.

Similar to protocols at the United Nations, positions were fanned out by country. The Philippines earned the presidency (Merle Jimenez-San Pedro), the vice-presidency to Malaysia (Yasmin Mohd Hasni).


South Korea took the Strategy Development Officer (Sohyun Jo) with Vietnam (Anh Thi Tuyet) and Thailand (Mai Tran). Legal Officer is from Pakistan (Saira Soomro Najmi) while another Filipina was elected Treasurer (Sonia B. Malaluan).


Timor Leste and Maldives were elected to Registrar membership; Myanmar and Mongolia are Communication/Media Officers.


The lady.

Merle Jimenez-San Pedro is president of WIMA-Phil established in 2007 in support of the IMO resolution of encouraging participation of women in the maritime industry.


San Pedro also chairs the Movement for Maritime Philippines (MMP) pushing for reforms with its National Maritime Agenda accepted by President Rodrigo Duterte as a priority.


She is an educator, administrator of Mariners’ Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, a pioneer maritime higher educational and training institution in the Bikol region. She is a sought-after Resource Speaker on quality and governance of maritime education and training programs, on challenges and opportunities for cadets/cadettes and women officers, and on gender sensitivity in the maritime industry.


Ms. Merle was elected in 2006 as the first woman president of the Philippine Association of Maritime Training Centers (PAMTCI), attesting to women empowerment. PAMTCI forms part of the Phil. delegation to the annual STW meetings of the IMO in London, England.


She holds a Master of Arts on Phil. Studies from De La Salle University (DLSU), a Lecturer on sociology and behavioral sciences at DLSU and at St Scholastica College-Manila, her alma mater.


Presently, she serves as president of Mariners’ Polytechnic Training Center-Manila offering STCW training courses, active on improving coastal communities as primary corporate social responsibility (CSR), a regular contributor to Marino World, a maritime publication.