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SeaLight initiative wants to make waves in B.C.’s marine industry for women

Only two per cent of the people working in the marine industry are female
Only two per cent of people in the marine industry are women, according to Kamila Calko, founder of Starlight. The community platform and adovacy group was launched Saturday. (News Staff/ Thomas Eley)

After two decades in the marine industry and with little progress in protecting women, Kamila Calko, former BC Ferries captain and Canadian Coast Guard, decided to take action.

“I just had this light-bulb moment,” Calko said.

On Saturday, May 4, Calko launched SeaLight and SeaLight Sisters, an advocacy service for women and an app that will connect with other female sailors at sea and in the industry.

“It’ll just keep evolving. We’re just starting,” Calko said.

Conversations around keeping women safe while at sea have been needed for decades as the industry has not evolved at all, according to Calko.

“When I started 20 years ago, the percentage of women in the marine industry was two per cent. Today it is still two per cent. Nothing has changed,” said Calko.

According to Calko, out of the two per cent, only slightly more than one per cent possess the minimum qualification required, known as Standards of Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. The remaining individuals, under one per cent, work either as officers or on the bridge.

The initiative launched by Calko is very important to create change in the marine industry, said Jason Woods, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 400.

“Nobody progresses alone. Everyone progresses together. The rising tide raises all vessels,” Woods said.

Captain Lara Barrett, a captain with the Canadian Coast Guard for more than 25 years, said it is essential to try breaking the barriers women face in the industry.

“It was certainly missing during my career,” Barrett said.

More information can be found on SeaLight’s website

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About the Author: Thomas Eley

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