women in maritime

Photo: International Maritime Organization

IMO to Establish International Day for Women in Maritime

Mike Schuler
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November 12, 2021

The UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) will establish an International Day for Women in Maritime, a move some say has been a long time coming.

The IMO Council, meeting from November 8-12, decided to establish the day of observance to “celebrate women in the industry, 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 Sustainable Development Goal 5 (to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime,” the IMO said in a statement. It will also help will help promote IMO’s Women in Maritime Programme.

The proposal to establish an International Day for Women in Maritime was first addressed by IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee (TCC) in September 2021, on the heels of momentum of the World Maritime Theme in 2019 “Empowering women in the maritime community.” The proposal received wide support from the TCC in forwarding the proposal to the Council.

Once adopted by the IMO Assembly in December, International Day for Women in Maritime is to be observed each year on May 18.

“I welcome the Council’s adoption of this proposal. Not only does it further efforts to achieve SDG 5 on gender equality, but it is a perfect follow-on action to the IMO Assembly’s resolution and call to achieve a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

According to the IMO, women represent just 1.2% of the global seafarer workforce, based on BIMCO/ICS Seafarer Workforce Report for 2021 which estimated there were 24,059 women working as seafarers worldwide, an increase of 45.8% increase compared with the 2015 report.

The IMO Council is made up of 40 member states elected by the IMO Assembly to two-year terms.

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