By Aakanksha Nigam
To increase the number of women working in this field, the maritime industry needs a paradigm shift that will treat training and experience equally as promotion criteria.
The maritime sector has so far been able to shield itself from these winds of change, despite the efforts other sectors have taken to speed up the advancement of women. Only 2% of the world’s maritime employment is currently made up of women, maintaining the industry’s continued male dominance.
Monica Damania is the director of her own venture named Renuka Forwarding Pvt. Ltd. She has been in this male-dominated industry for the past 25 years and is still thriving. She has worked with renowned companies like Allcargo Logistics, Pil, Team Global Logistics, Continental Carrier, and Skyways Logistics.
Damania asserted that to survive and excel in this male-dominated industry, she worked twice as hard as any man would do and fought for her rights by becoming the alpha female that she is today.
When asked about the barriers she had to face, Monica said, “Competition between our own colleagues, companies paying someone more who is not at all eligible in front of you and making them your reporting boss.” The plight of a deserving woman to see a non-eligible person boss her around can just because he is a man will always anger a righteous human being.
To make a name for herself, Monica started her own company in 2019, “I started my own company Renuka Forwarding Pvt Ltd. with 2 partners on October 2nd, 2019 and like the whole world, we also faced lockdown hitch and we all were so down thinking whether the company will work or not and we should close down. But I took a step ahead and motivated them that if not today then it will never be tomorrow. So we ran the show and fought our battle and today we are successful in our own way.”
She further said that she was inspired by her father, who taught her about the maritime industry, and its functioning, and eventually, as she said, “Allowed me to fly on my own.”
Being a woman in a male-led industry is not at all easy, as you’re mostly treated as an outcast or as someone who isn’t as well versed in the field as the men colleagues. Damania once again proved this notion wrong in an encounter with a customs officer as Nhava Sheva CFS. She explained the complete incident, “There was this custom officer in Nhava Sheva CFS, who kept the shipment on hold for no such reason. All the officers and senior operations tried to get the shipment moving but failed. So I went to look into the matter. When I tried to convince the customs officer, he was too adamant about even listening to other people’s opinions. So, I did what had to be done. Since he was too sure about the theory he learned, I further explained his own theory to him, logically proved him wrong, and was successful in exporting the shipment on time.”
She added, “The officers and CFS there were so shocked that I, being a woman, convinced the customs officer to do something, that no one was able to do so far, and suddenly they were curious to know about me and were asking my staff, ‘Who is that lady who easily completed the task that seemed almost impossible?’
She further said that it made her realize that a woman is no less and can achieve what she wants by staying on the right path.
Her message for the young woman who wants to be a part of the maritime industry was, “Firstly, accept yourself as the strongest woman in this universe, and nothing is impossible in this world. Try and try till you succeed, and mark my words, success comes only and only with hard work, so keep on doing that and you will surely reach your destination. You can and you will.”
Monica further thanked Littoral Communications and said, “Littoral Communications is an inspiring company that really recognizes women and their efforts in all fields. They even celebrated Littoral International Day for women in maritime events on May 18th. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Raja Vaiz, chairman, Littoral Communications, and the work he performs for his company.”
She finally thanked her late father, Mr. Kirit Damania, who made her a strong lady today to fight against this world; her daughter, Isha; and her lifelong supporter, Mr. Oorvez Batty, who has stood by her side. She further thanked her business partners, Mr. Shekhar and Mr. Anil, who trusted in her abilities and agreed to start the company together, which helped them to grow as a team.
From being an inspiration for her colleagues to being a loving mother, a woman can truly do it all, and Monica Damania is proving it to the world every single day.