Seafarers Celebrate International Day For Women In Maritime

The United Nations celebrates International Day for Women in Maritime on 18 May this year, with the theme of “Mobilising networks for gender equality”. This is intended to encourage greater networking and collaboration to support women to take up roles and to progress their careers within the maritime sector. 

Despite the fact that more women than ever are employed in roles at sea and at ports, there is still a widespread gender imbalance in the maritime industry, and particularly in senior management roles, where women make up just 16.5% of the workforce. Globally, the overall picture is even worse, with women making up just 2% of the workforce.

Despite several years of effort by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the gender imbalance remains stubbornly high. The benefits of a more diverse workforce are widely known, with various studies proving that an equal gender balance leads to more innovative thinking and better decision making. 

Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the IMO, said: “On 18 May, we celebrate the International Day for Women in Maritime. Women are working in all facets of the maritime sector across the globe, on shore and at sea to support the transition to a decarbonized, digitalized and more sustainable future for the industry.”

“There is still a significant gender imbalance in maritime. Times are changing – but we need to accelerate that change. The benefits for the whole sector of improved diversity in the workforce is evident.”

“The theme for this year is “Mobilizing networks for gender equality”, highlighting the importance of collaboration and networking in achieving gender equality in the maritime sector. The IMO-established Women in Maritime Associations are one example of such networks.”

“They are paving the way in supporting women in maritime across the globe – and encouraging the next generation into the maritime industry. This is important because gender equality is recognized as a key pillar for a sustainable future.”

In the UK, the government is also taking action on the issue, as set out in the ‘Maritime 2050 People Route Map’. This is an initiative launched by the Department of Transport to expand the talent pool and diversity of the maritime workforce, with better access to training, career progression, and a social support network. 

Sue Terpilowski, Founding Chair of Women in Maritime Network, said: “The need for fairness, equality and inclusion is clearer than ever and the maritime sector must embrace diversity because it’s the right thing to do. Equally there is a strong business case for action.”

“The OECD has estimated that equalising the role of men and women in the labour market could increase GDP by 10% by 2030. There are women of all ages and abilities wanting to be a part of our maritime future and we must make sure we don’t waste any more time in not addressing this issue.” 

Hopefully the women of the upcoming generation will soon feel inspired and confident to bring their fresh talent and knowledge to the maritime industry. 

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