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Antigua and Barbuda Launches Local Chapter of The Women In Maritime Association Caribbean (WIMAC)

Members of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC) Antigua and Barbuda Chapter Inc. Front Row, Left to Right: Mrs. Tamara Lowe-James (Immediate Past President of WiMAC), Ms. Shenica Sebastian (President) and Mrs. Jemella Bascus-Sharpe (Vice President), Second Row, Left to Right: Mrs. Katarina McGhie-Thompson, Ms. Brenda Albert (Treasurer), Mrs. Karen Michael, Ms. Lanise George, Dr. Tricia Lovell, Ms. Franciose Bowen, Mrs. Mikyla Frederick-Winter, and Ms. Nicola Alleyne.

St. John’s, Antigua On March 8, 2024, the Antigua and Barbuda Chapter of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC) was launched at the Tradewinds Hotel with an official ceremony and cocktail reception.  The special event was celebrated on International Women’s Day under the theme and motto: “Inspire InclusionCount her inInvest in WomenAccelerate progress,” and began with the Reverend Denise Smith-Lewis, Minister of the Cedar Hall Moravian Church delivering the invocation.

Senator the Honourable Samantha Marshall, Minister of State with responsibility for the Ministry of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy, was the Keynote Speaker for the inaugural and auspicious affair.  She affirmed that “there is so much to be done to promote and inspire inclusion, and to present women with equal access to opportunities and resources in order to realize their full potential” and expressed her elation that the Antigua and Barbuda Chapter of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean has chosen to play its role in advancing this cause.

In addition to the Keynote Speaker’s inspirational and impactful speech, the audience was presented with committed support from His Excellency Ambassador Dwight Gardiner, Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Director and Registrar General of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS).  “I wholeheartedly endorse the objectives of the Association and in my role as International Gender Champion, I have made a commitment to support your local chapter and I am determined to break down barriers and make gender equality a working reality in my sphere of influence” the Ambassador stated.  There were also sound encouragement and pledged support from Mr. Jamie Saunders – Executive Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs, and Dr. Evette Smith Johnson – President of WiMAC.

Ms. Shenica Sebastian, President of the WiMAC Antigua and Barbuda Chapter Inc., in her inaugural address emphasized that “It was not an easy road. We had numerous challenges to navigate, but we can now happily report that the WiMAC Antigua and Barbuda Chapter is now a registered non-profit organization as of the 6th of December 2023. With delight she further stated, “we are now on equal standing with other established chapters in Jamaica, Dominica, Barbados, Guyana and Suriname that are committed to exerting collective influence within the Caribbean maritime space.”

An overview of the journey towards establishing the Antigua and Barbuda Chapter was presented, where in 1988 the IMO, a specialized agency of the United Nations with responsibility for the regulation of international shipping, established a Women in Maritime Programme to develop networks for the integration of women to address issues facing women’s development and well-being in the maritime sector.

In the furtherance of its strategic objectives, the IMO facilitated the establishment of several regional non-profit professional women associations worldwide for the development of women. To date, eight regional Women in Maritime Associations have been formed around the world: notably Africa, the Arab States, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific, covering some 152 countries and dependent territories.

It was noted that on the 17th of April 2015, the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC) was launched in Montego Bay, Jamaica, as the seventh regional Associations with the stated vision to empower women to become beacons for the sustainable development of the maritime industry. The Association’s commitment to increasing the performance, participation, and contribution of women in the maritime sector was also recalled. With representatives from across the Caribbean region in attendance, each country was mandated to establish a local chapter to further the goals and objectives of the regional association.

The Antigua and Barbuda Chapter of WiMAC is governed by a Board of Directors comprising of: Ms. Shenica Sebastian – President; Mrs. Jemella Bascus-Sharpe – Vice President, Ms. Brenda Albert – Treasurer, Ms. Shenique Barry – Secretary; and Ms. Maxime James – Member at Large.

Top initiatives of the WiMAC Antigua and Barbuda Chapter are:

  1. to promote the maritime sector through awareness seminars and outreach programmes in the community as an attractive and rewarding career option for women and girls both on board ships and shore-based facilities;
  2. to strengthen the relationship with the Directorate of Gender Affairs to collaborate on lobbying for harmonized legislation and implementing policies and programs that will advocate for the economic and professional development and empowerment of women and girls in Antigua and Barbuda;
  3. to conduct research on the information gap as it relates to the awareness of the role, professional opportunities, and achievements of women to produce sound action plans to increase training, visibility, and recognition of women in the maritime sector; and
  4. to embark on a recruitment drive to increase membership.

Senator the Honourable Samantha Marshall, Minister of State with responsibility for the Ministry of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy presenting the WiMAC Antigua and Barbuda Certificate of Incorporation to President, Ms. Shenica Sebastian.

Enrollment is open to female nationals or residents employed or engaged in the maritime sector and affiliate organizations, individuals, and students as well as corporations that share and support the objectives of WiMAC. The Association appeals for support in investing in gender equality, and accelerating the progress in charting the course for generations of women in the maritime sector.

In celebrating International Women’s Day, the local WiMAC Chapter recognized Senator, the Honourable Samantha Marshall, for her passionate contribution towards the advancement and protection of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda and for her continuous work on developing better polices aimed at improving social and economic targets to benefit all, in particular the most vulnerable. And in the same spirit, Dr. Tricia Lovell, Deputy Chief Fishers Officer, a recent graduate from the World Maritime University with a PhD. in Maritime Affairs, was also acknowledged for her over 20 years experience in the Maritime Industry and contribution to the Maritime Sector in Antigua and Barbuda.  The evening’s event culminated with an elegant and entertaining cocktail flavoured with music from the Wadadli Vibes band.


President, Shenica Sebastian recognises Dr. Tricia Lovell, Deputy Chief Fishers Officer.

President, Shenica Sebastian makes presentation to Senator the Honourable Samantha Marshall










For further information on the Antigua and Barbuda Chapter Inc. visit the WiMAC Antigua and Barbuda Chapter Facebook Page. If interested in joining the chapter kindly apply via email to wimac.antiguaandbarbudachapter@gmail.com.