WEBINAR: The People We Need for the Ocean We Want - Launch of the Report 2021 for the Empowering Women for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme

On 8 July, the World Maritime University (WMU) - Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute hosted a public webinar, “The People We Need for the Ocean We Want - Launch of the Report 2021 for the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme. In collaboration with key partners, the webinar raised awareness of the need for gender mainstreaming and the empowerment of women scientists across all actions under the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade). The event attracted well over 300 registrants from around the world.

Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, delivered the welcoming address noting that women have continually been undervalued and underrepresented in the various ocean sectors and activities, including most notably, in ocean science and ocean governance communities. “WMU’s Empowering Women Programme directly addresses current gender inequality in the context of both the generation and use of ocean science knowledge in the Ocean Decade. It aims to advance an alternative, inclusive model to enable more representative ocean science knowledge production. This will enable the delivery of policy outcomes for sustainable ocean governance to ensure gender equality and the empowerment of women of different ages and backgrounds at all levels,” she said.

Three of the primary researchers for the Empowering Women Programme briefly delivered their findings and work to date on the projects that are outlined in detail in the full Report. Dr Mariamalia Rodriguez Chaves, Post-doc Fellow for the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute presented her research on gender mainstreaming in ocean governance bodies and updates from her preliminary data collection. Ms Renis Auma Ojwala, WMU PhD Candidate, presented her research on gender equality in ocean science for sustainable development regarding an analysis of the ocean science institutions in Kenya. Ms Ellen Johannesen, WMU PhD Candidate, presented her work on understanding the role of gender in the practice of international marine science looking specifically at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) as a case study. 

The Report 2021 for the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme was officially launched by Ms Rhea King, Executive Director, Science Programs, Ecosystems and Oceans Science for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She noted Canada is pleased to provide support for the WMU Empowering Women Programme, which she said “is generating the necessary knowledge and capacity that we need to advance progress on gender equality in ocean science.”

A roundtable discussion followed and was moderated by Dr Zhen Sun, Co-Principal Investigator for the Empowering Women Programme and Research Officer for the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute. Dr Wendy Watson Wright, Member and Gender Focal Point for the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) was the first roundtable speaker. She emphasized that diversity builds value and important actions for the Ocean Decade to support gender equality include reaching a broadened audience, gathering gender disaggregated data, and diversity oversight to ensure progress is being made. 

In his remarks, Mr Michael Lodge, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, said, “It is very easy to pay lip service to gender equality, but much more difficult to identify and implement specific actions that will result in women’s empowerment and leadership.” He highlighted five key points in support of gender equality including 1) the need for internal and external strategies, 2) aligning actions with existing mandates, 3) the importance of analysis and research, 4) that practical measures do not necessarily have to cost money, and 5) the importance of building partnerships. 

Mr Ariel Hernän Troisi, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was the final roundtable speaker. He pointed out that as shown in the Global Ocean Science Report 2020, female scientists are still under-represented in many categories of ocean science such as technology development and ocean observation. He remarked that although today women are reaching the upper echelons of leadership positions in ocean science, there is more work to do. “In this Decade we are not going to solve the problems, but we are going to set the baseline and construct our new relationship with the ocean,” he said, reiterating that success will depend on the participation of everyone, and we need to encourage that participation without any barriers.

Professor Ronan Long, Director of the WMU- Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, delivered closing remarks and emphasized the importance of ensuring gender equality as a central pillar of all Ocean Decade initiatives and highlighting important actions at individual, institutional, and governmental levels. Individual actions include advocacy and awareness as well as participation and support for pathways to empower women and to remove barriers to gender equality. Institutional actions include collecting disaggregated data and implementing gender-responsive policies that focus on measurable outcomes including reconciling work with family life regardless of gender. Governmental actions include gender equality provisions in international instruments, and ensuring effective women’s representation in decision-making bodies/senior leadership positions. Most importantly, Professor Long emphasized that gender equality is never an isolated aspect.

The webinar was a Satellite Activity of the First Ocean Decade Laboratory “An Inspiring and Engaging Ocean” that is taking place 7-8 July 2021. The Ocean Decade Laboratories are sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany in partnership with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.

To watch the recorded webinar, click here.


About the DFO-WMU Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme

The Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme is generously funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) with additional support from The Nippon Foundation. The purpose of the Empowering Women Programme is to advance an alternative, inclusive model for the sustainable governance of ocean spaces and maritime activities that duly takes into account the need to ensure effective gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels in order to ensure the sustainable management of the global ocean. The Programme is endorsed by IOC-UNESCO as a Decade Action and will play a central role in supporting the Ocean Decade mission to catalyze transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development.

About the World Maritime University and WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. The mission of WMU is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development. WMU’s vision is to inspire leadership and innovation for a sustainable maritime and oceans future. WMU is an organization by and for the international maritime community and is committed to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute was inaugurated in May 2018 and made possible through generous support from The Nippon Foundation of Japan, the Governments of Sweden, Canada, and Germany, as well as the City of Malmö. The vision of the Institute is to act as an independent focal point for the ocean science-policy-law-industry-society interface where policy makers, the scientific community, regulators, industry actors, academics, and representatives of civil society meet to discuss how best to manage and use ocean spaces and their resources in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

About the Ocean Decade Laboratories

The Ocean Decade Laboratories are a creative, interactive platform to support action for the Ocean Decade around the globe. They are a virtual catalyst of action for the Ocean Decade. There are Seven Laboratories taking place between July 2021 to May 2022. Each Laboratory focuses on one of the seven Outcomes of the Ocean Decade.

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