"Empowering Women in the Maritime Community" has been selected as the World Maritime Day theme for 2019. This will provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, in line with the United Nations‘ Sustainable Development Goals （SDGs） , and to highlight the important contribution of women all over the world to the maritime sector.
The Council of the International Maritime Organization （IMO） , meeting for its 120th session at IMO Headquarters in London, endorsed the theme, following a proposal by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
“IMO has a strong commitment to helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals （SDGs） and continues to support the participation of women in both shore-based and seagoing posts, in line with the goals outlined under SDG 5: ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls‘,” Mr. Lim said.
“This theme will give IMO the opportunity to work with various maritime stakeholders towards achieving the SDGs, particularly SDG 5, to foster an environment in which women are identified and selected for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes and to encourage more conversation for gender equality in the maritime space,” Mr. Lim said.
While shipping has historically been a male dominated industry, IMO has been making a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and help women achieve a representation that is in keeping with twenty-first century expectations. This work has been focused through IMO‘s gender and capacity building programme, which is now in its thirtieth year.
Back in 1988, few maritime training institutes opened their doors to female students. IMO was in the vanguard of United Nations specialized agencies that forged a global programme known as the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector.
Carried out over several phases, it put in place an institutional framework to incorporate a gender dimension into IMO‘s policies and procedures, with resolutions adopted to ensure access to maritime training and employment opportunities for women in the maritime sector.
“Today, IMO‘s newly renamed, Women in Maritime programme is going strong. Empowering women fuels thriving economies across the world, spurs growth and development, and benefits all of us working in the global maritime community as we strive towards safe, secure, clean and sustainable shipping,” Mr. Lim said.
Female graduates of IMO’s global training institutes, the World Maritime University （WMU） and the International Maritime Law Institute （IMLI） are today working as maritime administrators and decision makers. They have a positive impact as role models in encouraging new female recruits.
IMO also supports the empowerment of women through gender-specific fellowships by facilitating access to high-level technical training for women in the maritime sector in developing countries.
IMO has supported the creation seven regional associations for women in the maritime sector across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. Access to these regional networks have provided members with a platform to discuss gender issues; a golden thread of worldwide maritime communication and improved implementation of IMO instruments.
The selection of the theme, "Empowering Women in the Maritime Community" will ensure a renewed focus on the IMO women in maritime programme, and on achieving the goals of SDG 5, throughout 2019.