International Day for Women in Maritime 2023

On 18 May, the maritime industry celebrates the International Day for Women in Maritime to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in the maritime workforce. 

The 2023 theme of “Mobilizing networks for gender equality” recognizes the importance of networking in the advancement of women in the maritime workforce. Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President, said, “WMU is the International Maritime Organization’s global centre of excellence in maritime and ocean education, research, and capacity-building. We make concerted and meaningful efforts to promote the roles of women in the maritime and ocean sectors, and to provide exceptional opportunities for networking through our broad-reaching work. A sustainable maritime and ocean future requires a sustainable workforce, and that requires women.” 

WMU creates, advances, supports, and promotes opportunities for women in the maritime and ocean sectors to build professional and personal networks. As WMU continues to improve gender balance in maritime and ocean-related fields, female student representation at WMU has improved substantially from 3% in 1983 to a third of the intake in the MSc programme delivered in Malmö, Sweden, while the WMU MSc programmes delivered in Shanghai and Dalian, China, have achieved the milestones of gender parity. Through recruitment strategies and support from fellowship donors, the proportion of female students and faculty continues to increase. To date, there are 1,295 female graduates from WMU out of the overall 5,807 graduates from 170 countries and territories. 

The networking opportunities WMU offers for women in maritime and ocean professions supports the increase of the number of qualified women eligible for policy-making and senior practitioner positions in both developed and developing countries. In the flagship MSc in Maritime Affairs programme in Malmö, Sweden, in addition to studying together with students from more than 50 countries annually, the majority of WMU students live together in the student residence building strong networks based on cross-cultural understanding and cooperation in the true spirit of the United Nations. 

In further support of gender equality, through generous support of donors, WMU is engaged in a research and capacity building Programme on Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The programme was officially endorsed as an Ocean Action by IOC-UNESCO during the official launch of the Decade. WMU is committed to contributing and facilitating the empowerment of women in the conduct of ocean science, as well as in delivering science-based decision-making processes in ocean governance systems.

In support of advancing women in the maritime and ocean professions, in 2019, WMU organized the Third International Conference on Empowering Women in the Maritime Community. The Conference, which was attended by 350 participants from 70 countries, identified 17 actions that could be taken to advance gender balance in the maritime and oceans sector. The key conclusions included promoting women role models, engaging with children in primary and secondary education to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industry for women and securing priority funding for gender research. 

Empowering Women Forum: Meet-and-Greet
In support of networking for gender equality, on 23 May, WMU will host the Empowering Women Forum, in collaboration with the Decade Coordination Unit (DCU) and the Decade Network. The session will present the work undertaken by the DCU, the Decade Network and WMU’s Empowering Women for the Ocean Decade Programme. There will be opportunities to learn from other participants of the Forum, as well as breakout discussions.

The Empowering Women Forum is established by the research and capacity development Programme on Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Empowering Women for the Ocean Decade Programme). The Programme is generously supported by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Nippon Foundation. It is carried out by a multidisciplinary team at the World Maritime University-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute. For more information, and to register, click here.

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