Press for Progress: International Women’s Day 2018
In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March, the World Maritime University Women’s Association (WMUWA) hosted an IWD seminar for students and staff reflecting the official IWD 2018 theme, “Press for Progress”.
Opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU. When the University was founded in 1983, women made up only two per cent of the Malmö MSc enrolment. The President noted that today, roughly 30 per cent of the students in the Malmö MSc programme are female and in the Shanghai MSc programme this year, over 60 per cent of the students are female. Although this is progress in the right direction, she highlighted that much more needs to be done to promote women in maritime professions.
The IMO Strategic Plan 2018-2023 contains a commitment to the education, training, promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Further, WMU’s strategic directions include contributing, 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. “We must all do our part to support a sustainable economy and to achieve Goal 5 of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda that is focused on gender equality,” stated President Doumbia-Henry. She added that the maritime industry needs to do more to attract and retain women in the industry. At the same time, she noted that one company was doing a great job at it and should continue to do so. She hoped that the leadership role of Celebrity Cruises, which has now increased the number of female marine officers on the bridge from 3% to 20% in its fleet of ships, will encourage other companies to follow suit.
Welcome remarks were delivered by the current WMUWA President, Judy-Ann Neil who noted that gender parity will continue to require significant effort stating, “There is no short cut for success, as you cannot “press for progress” without putting in the requisite work.”
Dr. Filippa Säwe, Senior Lecturer of Lund University as well as Chairman for Öresundsfiskarna (fisherman of the sound) was the guest speaker and presented on the topic of “Sustainable fishing in the Sound”. She addressed the challenges of being a woman working in a man’s world and encouraged women to believe in their abilities. She also acknowledged the important role that men play in advancing and supporting the progress of gender equality.
The programme featured video messages from current Presidents of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) regional women’s associations including AWIMA, PacWIMA, WiMAC, and WIMA ASIA. Claudia Grant (WMU MSc 1991), President of Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC) noted that although women across the world have their differences, “Our common bond is the struggle for gender equality.”
A panel discussion offered the opportunity for questions and featured Dr. Säwe, Mrs. Lillemor Darinder, Assistant Governor for District 2390 of Rotary Club, and Dr. Momoko Kitada, Associate Professor, WMU. An overall thread emphasized seizing the opportunities that are open to you, and the importance of continuing to “press for progress” to achieve gender equality.
The objectives of the WMUWA are to connect, educate and inspire women in the maritime industry and to promote the interests of female maritime professionals through the creation of an international network for women from the WMU and women involved in other internationally recognized female associations in the maritime sector.
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 the efforts of IMO and WMU to promote gender equality click here.