International Day for Women in Maritime
A message from Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU)
“I am pleased to mark the inaugural IMO International Day for Women in Maritime, 18 May 2022, with a message in support of maritime women globally. ‘Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment’, is well suited for the inaugural theme as it captures the essence of the challenges facing women in maritime professions today.
The promotion of gender equality is at the top of agendas worldwide, as gender disparities affect our entire planet. The gender and empowerment issue is so crucial that besides being a goal of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, it is also included in the UN Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDGs) 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all women and girls.
IMO’s gender programme was initiated in 1988 and has evolved into the Women in Maritime Gender Programme, with redefined goals that go beyond expanding capabilities to supporting women through IMO´s maritime training institutions. IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders and the 2019 World Maritime Day theme of ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’ provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, and to highlight the global contribution of women to the maritime sector. In that same year, WMU hosted our third major women’s conference. The WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference brought together over 350 participants from more than 70 countries. The conference report includes a set of conclusions that outline the way forward to substantially increase the numbers of women in the maritime and ocean sector professions. Key conclusions include 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.
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 already achieved milestones for gender parity. Through recruitment strategies and support from fellowship donors, the proportion of female students and faculty continues to increase. To date, there are 1,254 female graduates from WMU out of the overall 5,634 graduates from 171 countries and territories. Studying at WMU provides exceptional opportunities for women in maritime and ocean professions, thereby increasing the number of qualified women eligible for policy-making and senior practitioner positions in both developed and developing countries.
Women have assumed maritime leadership positions such as CEOs, bankers, lawyers, surveyors, and captains, yet we are still very far from providing and ensuring equal opportunities for all. COVID-19 could potentially slow progress on taking forward gender equality and women’s empowerment. As a result, WMU is relentlessly striving to enhance its resilience as a university and as a go to place for women and men.
At WMU, we know that education has a lasting impact on capacity building in the maritime and ocean industries and we will continue our important mission, no matter the challenges that may arise. The future is in all of our hands. We must all work together to be bold, innovate and ensure that there are equal opportunities for everyone because equality in the maritime industry is key to helping achieve a sustainable future for the industry as a whole.”
About the IMO International Day for Women in Maritime
In 2021, the IMO Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 18 May as the IMO International Day for Women in Maritime. Beginning with the inaugural celebration in 2022, the day will be observed annually to celebrate women in the industry and to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO's commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.
IMO Virtual Symposium
The IMO is hosting The virtual Symposium on “Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment for Women in Maritime” on Wednesday 18 May 2022 from 14:00 – 16:30 hrs, British Summer Time (BST). The symposium will highlight the need for women to be more visible and mainstreamed in the maritime community, on board ships and throughout the sector as a whole, and more widely in representation at decision-making levels. The symposium will also address skills development for women in the maritime sector.