Celebrating remarkable women on International Women’s Day
Coastguard is celebrating its increasing network of female volunteers today, as International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world.
IWD, which started in the early 1900s, celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
This year, IWD has turned the spotlight on gender parity and against a backdrop of recent strong global movements like #TimesUp and more, the campaign is calling for communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
Although Coastguard volunteers are predominantly male, there are more women joining every year, with many taking on leadership roles at unit, regional and national level.
Vicki Rowland is one of those women. Not only is she the President of Coastguard Wellington, in 2009 she also became the first female Master in her unit, meaning she’s qualified to lead a crew on the water during a rescue.
“Being a Master means you’re responsible for everything that happens on the water with the crew and the boat, and whatever boat and people you’re rescuing,” says Vicki. “Women are definitely a minority when it comes to being a Master – we need more women in this role."
Despite the small number of female Masters, Vicki says many women take on other important roles and have a huge impact on the unit.
“Our training officer is female, our secretary is female; we’ve got women in the management team, as well as in the crews. It’s really important having women in different positions within our team.
“I think we bring a different level to the work. We’ve got a lot of empathy and compassion, which is really important during rescues.
“Coastguard’s not a very girly thing, so it’s really encouraging to see that there are a lot more women stepping up and getting out there and doing it.”
For Vicki, her love for the sea and helping people has seen her lead a strong and inspiring team at Coastguard Wellington. This is no easy task as Vicki dedicates many hours to volunteering while also committing time to her job and family.
Through all her hard work, Vicki doesn’t think being a woman has made it any more challenging to play a huge role in Coastguard.
“I don’t see any barriers to being a woman on the boat. It’s not like you need brute strength or anything like that – we can all hold our own. I think the only barrier is that there aren’t enough of us!”
Vicki would love to see more women join the ranks of Coastguard, and encourages anyone who’s passionate and dedicated to join their local unit.
“If you like the sea and you like to help people it’s an excellent way to get out there and do it. Don’t be afraid of it, just go for it.
“The feeling of helping someone get home safe, you can’t beat it. That’s why our volunteers do what they do."
Thanks to amazing volunteers like Vicki, Coastguard can proudly celebrate the remarkable women who give their time and skills to keep communities safe on the water.