Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality
In recognition of International Women’s Day (IWD), the World Maritime University Women’s Association (WMUWA) hosted a programme for students and staff in the WMU Sasakawa Auditorium entitled Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality reflecting the official theme of IWD 2016. Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President, was on mission and not able to attend the event in person. The President’s remarks were delivered by Susan Jackson, WMU Registrar.
“The occasion of International Women’s Day 2016, provides us with the first global opportunity to unite our voices specifically to promote Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, 2030: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. Gender equality is not only a Goal in its own right, it is also an issue that cuts across and is necessary for the achievement of all the other 16 SDGs. The SDGs should together and in a combined and concerted manner help to promote gender equality and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right; it is also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” stated President Doumbia-Henry.
President Doumbia-Henry noted that the maritime industry is still predominantly male-dominated with women representing less than 2 percent of seafarers and that together with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), WMU is contributing to the preparation of an IMO Global Strategy for Women Seafarers. “The intention is to produce a clear and instructive strategy and reference tool for all maritime stakeholders, with a "road map" that clearly defines the building-blocks required for the creation of a new cadre of trained seafarers while defining also the parallel positive impact on the shipping industry,” stated President Doumbia-Henry.
Through a targeted recruitment strategy and with strong support from fellowship donors, the annual intake of women in the WMU MSc programme has risen from roughly 2 percent in the early 1980s to roughly 25-30 percent in recent years. The President noted that one of the strategic directions of WMU is to contribute, through education, to the elimination of discrimination against women and to further the equality and empowerment of women to ensure their full and effective participation with equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. The President recognized the importance of Women in Shipping and Trading (WISTA) International to advancing women in the maritime industry and the new initiative by the International Association of Ports and Harbors to provide scholarships for women to assist them in pursuing high education. In addition, the President noted that the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 was designed as a gender sensitive international treaty seeking to ensure that the maritime workplace is free from bias and discrimination.
Dr Momoko Kitada, The Nippon Foundation Assistant Professor, delivered an address entitled Gender Equality for the Maritime Industry: A Big Picture. Dr Kitada noted the important role of the IMO’s regional network for women with chapters around the globe in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. The IMO's programme on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS) was established in 1988 and has a primary objective to encourage IMO Member States to open the doors of their maritime institutes to enable women to train alongside men and so acquire the high-level of competence that the maritime industry demands. IMO supports the participation of women in both shore-based and sea-going posts under the IWMS slogan: Training-Visibility-Recognition.
Dr Kitada’s presentation highlighted statistical data that women are half of the world’s working-age population but generate only 37 percent of the GDP, and that 75 percent of women are affected by gender inequality globally. Dr Kitada maintained that the data supports that gender equality is clearly important, not just idealistic and offered six necessary strategies to increase women in the maritime sector including financial incentives and support, technology and infrastructure, creation of economic opportunities, capacity-building, advocacy and shaping attitudes, and laws, policies and regulations need to support gender equality. The important role that WMU plays in research on gender equality was also highlighted by Dr Kitada as a critical contribution to advancing the roles of women in maritime professions.
Closing remarks were delivered by WMUWA President, Mwanaulu Issa Mwajita who stated, “I challenge each one of us here to lead the way by purposely taking action in our day to day life activities regardless of your position that will translate into the promotion of gender parity. To the WMU students, you are the future leaders; let this be a challenge to you as you go back to your countries in your various capacities within the maritime industry as WMU ambassadors to make gender parity a reality. Be a mentor, be a positive influencer and make a difference in the lives of your society. As per Malala Yousafzai’s quote (2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate) “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.’”
Students of the World Maritime University’s Class of 2014 established the WMU Women’s Association (WMUWA), which hosted its official launch on August 9, 2014. The objectives of the Association are to connect, educate and inspired women in the maritime industry and to promote the interests of female maritime professionals by the creation of an international network for women from the World Maritime University and women involved in other internationally-recognized female associations in the maritime sector.
March 8 is annually recognized as International Women's Day (IWD). It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. IWD has been observed since the early 1900s and was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975.
To learn more about IMO's and WMU's efforts to promote gender equality click here.