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Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (Wista) is an international association that connects women from the maritime sector. The association has more than 3,800 members and 54 National WISTA Associations, including Belgium. Catrien Scheers, Chair of Fast Lines Belgium, is one of the pioneers.
Wista may have existed for almost 50 years, but Scheers has no doubts about the current necessity of the club. "First and foremost, we want to make women in the shipping industry visible," she said. "This is how female entrepreneurs come to present their business cases, for example around clean tech. Change management is also discussed: how do you prepare your company for crises, for radical changes in the business?
"Admittedly, I was also skeptical about the idea of a 'sorority' at first," Scheers continues. "The maritime sector is a man's world, but I have always felt at home in it. I gradually came to realize that it is important for the visibility of the women in the sector. Women often remain silent because of a culturally determined convention, even if they have good ideas. Wista teaches them to stand up for themselves. Moreover, Wista offers a strong network: members recognize each other quickly when they bump into each other at international meetings. "
So a real sorority after all? That deserves some nuance, Scheers said. “In the past we have also voted men as personality of the year, when they helped strengthen the position of women in the maritime sector.”