President Doumbia-Henry Speaks in Peru about Women’s Empowerment

As part of the celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of Peru’s Dirección General de Capitanías y Guardacostas (DICAPI), a conference was held on 9 August with the theme "Maritime Environment: Challenges and Opportunities". The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim gave the opening Keynote address. Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU), addressed the conference on the 2019 theme for World Maritime Day on “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”. 

Photo credit: DICAPI

The maritime industry is still one of the most under-represented sectors of economic activity for women. As the sole female speaker on the programme, President Doumbia-Henry highlighted that women’s participation in seafaring jobs and careers continues to be as low as it was 27 years ago, an issue of great concern. She cited multiple barriers that prevent women from working in maritime professions. They include: gender prejudice; working and living conditions on board ships; unfounded beliefs that women are incapable or unsuited to seafaring due to the physical demands of working at sea; ideas that linger that women are uniquely responsible for family and household responsibilities which make long periods away from home problematic; concerns regarding women’s occupational safety and health, including bullying and harassment at work; legal and administrative obstacles; work-life balance issues; equal pay issues; lack of information about opportunities for women in maritime; and presenting a more positive perspective on jobs in maritime.

“To ensure readiness for the future of maritime innovation and ocean sustainability, the empowerment of women in the maritime and ocean community is critical. The UN SDG Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) calls for transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions. This is particularly important in advancing gender equality and empowering all women and girls. It is obvious that existing interventions will not suffice to achieve a gender balanced Planet 50-50 by 2030 called for under Goal 5. We now urgently need innovative approaches that disrupt ‘business as usual’. They are central to removing structural barriers and ensuring that no woman, no girl is left behind,” said President Doumbia-Henry.

In early April this year, the World Maritime University hosted the Third International Women’s Conference on Empowering Women in the Maritime Community. The Conference attracted over 350 participants from more than 70 countries who came together and adopted conclusions identifying 17 actions that could be taken to advance gender balance in maritime and oceans, of which six are to be prioritized as follows:

  1. A new study should be undertaken without delay that would provide the most up to date information and data on the number of women in maritime and oceans fields across all sectors and the positions they occupy.
  2. Affirmative action in capacity building should be taken to support Gender Empowerment for the Decade of Ocean Science.
  3. A network platform should be established to address gender empowerment, learning and sharing best practice in a knowledge hub and build support.
  4. A solid engagement of all stakeholders should be put in place in consultation with women and minorities.
  5. Education and training initiatives and partnerships should be pursued that promote gender rights and equality in the maritime and ocean communities.
  6. Enhanced collaborative opportunities to work together should be actively pursued to support the effective implementation of UN SDG Goal 5 (Gender) and Goal 14 (Oceans).

The Conference Report is expected to be published in September in time for the official celebration of World Maritime Day at IMO on 26 September.

DICAPI is the maritime authority and Coast Guard of Peru and performs the work of control and surveillance in the maritime, river and lake areas, as well as search and rescue tasks. In 2017 an MoU was signed between WMU and DICAPI  that includes collaboration on enrolment of Peruvian officers in WMU’s Masters and PhD programmes, the organization of field study visits and conferences in Peru, the conduct of research by WMU on behalf of the Peruvian government, tailor-made courses to support capacity-building and training, as well as professional development courses to be delivered in Peru and at WMU in Malmö, Sweden.

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