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WMU Contributes to 2019 World Maritime Day Parallel Event

This year’s World Maritime Day (WMD) Parallel Event was held in Cartagena, Colombia from 15-17 September on the 2019 theme of Empowering Women in the Maritime Community. The theme provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular Goal 5 – Gender Equality – to highlight the important, yet under-utilized, contribution of women within the maritime sector. Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU), delivered a keynote address at the event on the topic of Empowering Women in Maritime and Ocean Affairs: The UN Decade for Ocean Science.

President Doumbia-Henry announces the release of the WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference Report
President Doumbia-Henry announces the release of the WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference Report

The maritime industry is still one of the most under-represented sectors of economic activity for women, and over the last 27 years, the percentage of women seafarers has remained at one to two percent. President Doumbia-Henry emphasized that to make a change, we need more innovative solutions. “In order to effectively implement SDG 5 (gender equality) in the maritime and ocean sectors, technology is one of the keys to support the multiplier effect of mainstreaming gender across various maritime and ocean sectors,” she said.

In early April this year, WMU hosted the Third International Women’s Conference on Empowering Women in the Maritime Community. The conference brought various maritime and ocean stakeholders together to discuss the common challenge of gender equality. Over 350 participants from more than 70 countries adopted conclusions identifying 17 actions that could be taken to advance gender balance in the maritime and oceans sectors.

At the WMD Parallel Event, President Doumbia-Henry announced the release of the Conference Report, highlighting the following elements among the conclusions:

● Implementing gender-responsive policies;
● Updating data and statistics on women professionals in all sea-related activities;
● Promoting role models;
● Engaging with children in primary and secondary education to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industry;
● Establishing mentoring programmes;
● Securing priority funding for gender research;
● Emphasizing gender equality as a business case; and last but not least;
● Ensuring equal employment opportunities and equal pay for work of equal value.

Referring to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development from 2021 to 2030 that is aimed at reversing the cycle of decline in ocean health, President Doumbia-Henry said, “It is recognized that the aims of the Decade for Ocean Science, including improved conditions for sustainable development of the ocean, can only be achieved with equal participation from both women and men. More inclusive approaches in the design and conduct of marine scientific research could also support a sustainable blue economy, break the business model and share the responsibility for protecting the oceans by complementing the policy and management actions and encouraging better stewardship of our ocean resources.”

President Doumbia-Henry highlighted that over the next 36 months, WMU will implement a research project entitled Empowering Women for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Sponsored by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the project emphasizes WMU’s commitment to support and strengthen the evidence base on gender equality in ocean science. The research aims to remove barriers to women’s participation in both the conduct of ocean science and within science dependent governance systems.

Since the University was founded in 1983, WMU has been striving for improving gender balance in maritime and ocean-related fields in higher education and research. Female student representation at WMU has improved significantly from 3% in 1983 to 34% in 2019 in the MSc programme in Maritime Affairs delivered in Malmö, Sweden, and the Class of 2019 in the WMU MSc in International Transport & Logistics programme delivered in Shanghai, China, achieved gender parity.

About World Maritime Day

World Maritime Day was first held in 1978 to mark the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the IMO Convention that established the Organization. Since then, World Maritime Day celebrations have been held throughout the world to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO’s work.

Since 2005, in addition to the official IMO celebrations held at IMO Headquarters in London, there has been a World Maritime Day Parallel Event hosted by a member State. This year’s celebration at IMO will take place on 26 September

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