The United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) has today commemorated its second International Day for Women in Maritime. The day, marked on May 18, serves to underscore the crucial role of collaboration and networking in achieving gender equality in the maritime sector.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim emphasized the role women play in the maritime industry, both on shore and at sea, supporting the shift towards a decarbonized, digitalized, and more sustainable future. He noted, however, a significant gender imbalance that needs to be addressed more rapidly, emphasizing the sector-wide benefits of workforce diversity.
“The theme for this year highlights the importance of collaboration and networking in achieving gender equality in the maritime sector,” Lim said. “The IMO-established Women in Maritime Associations exemplify such networks, paving the way for women in maritime globally and inspiring the next generation to join the maritime industry.”
Lim also marked the day as a celebration of the many women working across the maritime industry, from navigators and engineers to CEOs and government representatives. He stressed the importance of promoting the recruitment, retention, and sustained employment of women in the sector.
The IMO is recognizing the occasion with a two-day conference at its headquarters in London, United Kingdom. Several other organizations and companies from the maritime sector also shared their support and commitments.
The Mission to Seafarers noted its better female representation in the UK, with nearly 50/50 gender distribution among staff, and a senior management team predominantly made up of women. Tomi Toluhi, Chief Operation Officer at Mission to Seafarers, expressed a desire to see more female chaplains and ship visitors worldwide.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the World Shipping Council, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Princess Cruises, and Transport Canada also joined in the commemoration, recognizing the contributions of women in the maritime industry and advocating for greater progress towards equality.
In the media, TradeWinds featured advice from leading women in shipping, while Splash247 focused on eliminating barriers for women in the maritime industry. JLA Media also featured voices from the sector. Safety4Sea poses the question: what needs to change to empower women in maritime?
Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) celebrated women working in the maritime sector and underscored the importance of recruiting and retaining female employees. WISTA International President, Elpi Petraki, stated that through dedicated collaboration, real change can be achieved for all.
Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, CEO of Tototheo Maritime and Petraki’s immediate predecessor as WISTA International President, emphasized the role of social awareness in training and education in the diverse maritime industry.
Elsewhere, Sinikka Hartonen, Secretary-General of One Sea, suggested that change is happening, making career opportunities in maritime a matter of gender neutrality. These observations echoed recent thoughts by Eleni Polychronopoulou, President of METIS Cyberspace Technology, on the cultural changes within the maritime industry leading to the emergence of more female leaders.
As the sector marks this key day in the calendar, it stands united in its commitment to accelerating change, promoting diversity, and achieving gender equality.