WISTA Hellas held a special event on December 9, to present two newly established Awards and to celebrate the holiday season, in a warm and festive atmosphere. About 200 guests had the opportunity to participate in the ceremony, exchange their news and Christmas wishes, after such a long time.

Among the distinguished guests were Deputy Minister for Education and Religioius Affairs Angelos Syrigos, Deputy Minister for Labor and Social Affairs Maria Syreggela, Secretary General at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Evaggelos Kyriazopoulos, Commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard Vice Admiral Theodoros Kliaris, Ambassador for Norway in Greece Frode Overland Andersen, Ambassador for Panama in Greece Julie Lyberopoulos, President of the Hellenic Shortsea Shipping Association Charalabos Simantonis, President of WISTA International Despina Panayiotou-Theodosiou, President of the Naval Museum of Greece Anastasia Anagnostopoulou-Paloumbi,  President of the Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus Kostis Fragoulis, President of the Maritime Club of Piraeus Irene Daifas, as well as correspondents from the Greek and international press.

President of WISTA Hellas Elpi Petrakis, welcomed everyone and announced the two new Awards that the Board of Directors had established this year. The “Leadership Award” was granted to Mrs. Ioanna Topaloglou and presented by Deputy Minister Maria Syreggela. The Leadership Award aims to recognize and reward achievement in gender diversity and equality either by leading positive actions to enable talented employees of all genders to realize their full potential, or by evidencing diversity within an organization, or by acting as a role model in championing gender equality within the Greek Maritime community, or by creating an inclusive culture by challenging gender inequalities.

Mrs. Topaloglou, Managing Director at Orion International Brokers & Consultants Ltd and a member of the BoD of WISTA Hellas for years, is one of the earliest pioneers of gender diversity in the Greek maritime workplace. She implemented gender equality and equal opportunities in her company since the 90’s andtrained, mentored and inspired women that have come up through the ranks from her employment and to become leaders in the maritime industry, making Mrs. Topaloglou’ s leadership a key factor in facilitating a whole new generation of high-profile female role models within the industry.

Deputy Minister Maria Syreggela mentioned that we need female role models and praised the fact that there were many men among the guests. She said that “it is not a battle of the sexes; we need the men by our side to defend the same rights as we do”. She made reference to the National Plan for Gender Equality, which involves 17 Ministries, and pointed out that no country can have development, if it does not promote gender equality and if it does not utilize its entire human resource capabilities and especially women which is half of its population.

The Award to the Hellenic Coast Guard, also established this year and is a recognition for the HCG dedication and commitment in the protection of human life at sea during search and rescue missions. Two Chief Petty Officers and Captains on patrol boats Efi-Georgia Kalliontzi and Despina Diakovasili received the awards from Commandant of the HCG, Vice Admiral Theodoros Kliaris.

Vice Admiral Kliaris said in his speech that the HCG opened its doors to women only in 1980, 102 years after its establishment, which seemed very progressive at the time. In a relatively short period ever since, they have had a noticeable effect on the coast guard, because of their professionalism, focus, courage and passion for the mission of the HCG. Vice Admiral Kliaris further mentioned that today there are about 1,919 women at all ranks and in various posts across the country and abroad, and he praised the two Ladies by saying that they are shining examples for the female presence in the HCG.

Mrs. Petrakis said that “the mission of the HCG is diverse; we focus though to the protection of human life at sea. We realize that such missions are conducted most of the time under harsh conditions, and the rescuers risk their life selflessly to protect others.  For all of us in shipping, our driving force is our seafarers, and their safety is our top priority. But this award had also had a gender diversity criterion. Today we are granting these awards to two young women, captains on patrol boats who participate actively on the frontline of search and rescue missions”

Mrs. Petrakis also thanked all WISTA Hellas members, the loyal sponsors and friends of the Association for their support and expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy and to other organizations for their excellent collaboration. She thanked especially the event sponsors Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp., International Registries Inc., και Tototheo Maritime S.A.

She invited everyone to be even more active with proposals and ideas for actions and to continue supporting WISTA Hellas, as today more than ever we all need to work for diversity and inclusion in the Shipping industry. Mrs. Petrakis concluded by wishing everyone Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

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