Article by Tiziana Murgia, Communication Director of Assoporti.

Women in Transport – the challenge for Italian Ports 

Tiziana Murgia, Communication Director of Assoporti.

During a period in which international news remind us that basic Women’s rights are in jeopardy in some regions, it is important to discuss about the situation of female labour conditions even in developed and industrialized countries.

Indeed, one of the main issues in relation to human capital and value of the person referred to ports and surrounding areas regards the role of Women in Transport. A key issue that has been brought to the EU level in diverse occasions and with diverse results. One thing is still certain, the number of women working in this field is still very low over the EU and, in particular, in the South of Europe.

If, on the one hand, an important initiative on the EU level, named Women in Transport was put into place in 2017, on the other hand the real situation in the transport field is that women have not yet reached their potential and do not have significant roles both in terms of numbers and in terms of actual functions.

As one of the first official communications sent to the Italian Ports Association, the new Minister for Infrastructure and sustainable transport specifically requested that new initiatives to overcome the gender gap be put into place. For this reason, the Italian Ports Association launched a working group composed of a representative from each Port Network Authority so as to activate useful actions aimed at reducing the gender gap.

The project “Women in Transport – the Challenge for Italian Ports” foresees a first step on behalf of the Italian Port Network Authorities to then be disseminated through port areas, in particular, to terminal operators and port operators in general. It takes as example the UN Sustainable Development goals, as well as the previsions of the European Union with reference to the Next Generation EU.

The working group thus realized a Gender Pact that has already been undersigned by the Port Network Authorities that are now working in the dissemination in port areas so as to create the best conditions for women in ports and to reduce the gender gap.

This means working on giving value to the activities carried out by women in ports and defining policies that are adequate for female workers. It also means including women in the decision-making phases making them part of the picture during the important steps in producing documents to improve the status of female labour. For a country in the South of Europe and for this sector which traditionally lays its foundations on male decision-making mainly due to tradition, this means a complete change of paradigm.

So as not to be a simple document that remains as such, the working group will now be working on the verification of its actual application as well as working on an online platform for the open discussion of best practices and examples of reduction of the gender gap.

The Pact has been sent to the Minister who immediately considered the document an element to be promoted in as many places as possible in the transport sector considering that, as already said, the Gender Gap is and remains an issue for the Italian Transport sector.

In general, according to the Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum issued in March, Italy is placed at the 63rd position on 156 countries in the world which makes it quite a low ranked country for EU standards. It seems that another generation of women will have to wait for gender equality according to the report. As the impact of COVID-19 continues, closing the gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. However, it is necessary that the pandemic not be used as an excuse to postpone a necessary move toward this essential step for a complete social sustainability.

There is therefore a strong need for this sector to move forward as despite the many conversations in the industry about gender inequality, little has been done to improve the situation for women in the railway, aviation and shipping industries.

Karla Figueroa Mex, Esperanza Reyes Gutierrez, Port of Progreso, Mexico. Photo from IMO

Italian Port Days

The strong vision and objective of the Italian Ports Working group will be presented during the initiative Italian Port Days, which has adopted a 2021 logo in the colour of objective 5 in the UN Agenda and which will hold contemporary gender events all over the country to illustrate the Pact undersigned and give voice those Women who have distinguished themselves in the field.

However, it is important to note that the total number of Presidents of Port Network Authorities and General Secretaries at present are all male and consequently the decision-making policy area is not in the hands of women. Same thing goes for National trade Associations and National Union representatives.

This important initiative which has just begun might just be the right step to change the future of Italian Ports. In this regard, the new National government could change the male tradition giving value to the many women who have long worked in the field and have strong professionality.