UN marks first-ever international day highlighting women working in the maritime industry

“Women make up only 20% of the workforce in maritime authorities in member states and 29%…in all sub-sectors of the maritime industry,” said the head of the International Maritime Organization ( IMO), Kitack Lim, at the Virtual Training-Visibility-Recognition Symposium: Supporting a Barrier-Free Work Environment for Women in the Maritimes.

Noting that these figures are “significantly higher than those at sea, where women make up only 2% of the workforce”, he added, “we can and must do better”.

Commitment to gender inclusion

The day aims to celebrate and promote the recruitment, retention and sustainable employment of women in the maritime sector.

By raising the profile of women in the maritime sector, IMO reinforces its commitment to the fifth Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) of gender equality while addressing gender imbalances in the maritime sector.

“The IMO is committed to gender inclusion,” Mr. Lim stressed.

Abundant evidence confirms that investing in women is the most effective way to strengthen communities, businesses and even countries. Countries with more gender equality enjoy better economic growth.

Progress for all

For more than three decades, IMO has worked to address the gender imbalance in its maritime programme.

“We are committed to this important cause – and we see these efforts paying off,” Lim said.

As enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, women in the maritime workforce are a benefit to everyone.

The IMO chief stressed the need for “creative thinking to navigate the maritime towards a more sustainable, diverse and inclusive green future”, which requires “the brightest minds to meet the challenges” thrown through decarbonization and digitization.

“People need to be empowered to participate in discussions about the future of maritime, regardless of their gender,” he said, calling the collaboration “the best way to find optimal solutions.”

“I’m thrilled that there are more women in our industry than in the past, along with a growing number of diversity champions and allies.”

Target equality

Around the world, IMO has helped to establish eight thriving Women in the Sea Associations (WIMAs): three in Africa and one each representing the Arab States, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Peaceful.

There, women can gain technical expertise through IMO-funded opportunities at the IMO Institute of International Maritime Law, the Women in Port Management course and, more recently, the Maritime Leadership Accelerator Program SheEO, which launched in March.

“We need to build on this progress,” Lim said.

Reveal data

Despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic, IMO was able to conduct a global survey that lays bare the gender gap in the sector.

The 2021 IMO-Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) survey report on women in the maritime sector details the proportion and distribution of women working in the maritime sector in IMO Member States and in the maritime industry.

Launching the post, he said gender diversity in maritime was “extremely fragmented by sector”.

“Benchmarking the current state of the sector is key to measuring where we are and where we need to go,” added the IMO chief.

“By actively empowering women with the required skills, maintaining a barrier-free work environment, we create truly sustainable systems of gender equality.”

Respect for migrants at sea

Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Panel for the Protection of Refugees and Migrants has called on states to investigate and prosecute abuses against migrants who are smuggled aboard ships at sea, including in countries of transit and destination. destination.

In a joint statement, UNHCR, IOM, OHCHR, UNODC, UNICEF and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants recalled that people are heading to sea in all parts of the world seeking of dignity, safety and refuge.

The drivers are complex and without safe and legal alternatives, people are increasingly forced to turn to smugglers and traffickers for irregular migration across the seas, who often have little regard for human life.

In this context, the group called on all States to create conditions that respect the human rights of people rescued at sea on their territories.