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WMU : Workshop of Empowering on Women for the un Decad of Ocean Science

Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry

From 28-30 September, the World Maritime University (WMU)-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute hosted a virtual workshop in support of the research and capacity-building programme, Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The workshop was the third to take place in support of the programme that is funded by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The main topic of discussion was identifying institutional opportunities and challenges to empower women scientists in a range of science and ocean governance bodies, as well as in non-governmental organizations.

The aim of the workshop was to inform project partners of progress made to date, as well as consult with international organizations and non-governmental organizations regarding their practices and views on how best to advance the empowerment of women scientists for the UN Decade of Ocean Science. In addition to DFO, high-level speakers and participants included representation from Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), United Nations Division of Affairs and Law of the Sea (DOALOS), International Seabed Authority (ISA), International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), GEOMAR, High Seas Alliance, and the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR). 

In addressing the participants, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU noted that we are on the brink of entering the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and WMU is committed to facilitating the empowerment of women in the conduct of ocean science, as well as in delivering science-based decision-making processes in ocean governance systems. “This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for us to create a new foundation, across the science-policy interface, and to strengthen the management of our oceans for the benefit of humanity. We can only achieve this if all of us are working together. This includes efforts from both women and men. We need everyone onboard for this particular voyage,” said President Doumbia-Henry.

The purpose of the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development programme is to advance women’s role in the conduct of ocean science, as well as in the delivery of science-based decisions. The research will examine pathways towards implementing SDG 5 focused on Gender Equality and SDG 14 focused on Life Below Water with particular emphasis on ocean science and governance systems. The findings will ultimately be used to inform the design of a Strategy and Action Plan for the Empowerment of Women Scientists for the UN Decade of Ocean Science. In support of the programme, the Government of Canada is also sponsoring a WMU PhD Scholarship and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Programme on Empowering Women.

‍About WMU‍

Established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, WMU’s mission is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development.‍

About the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development‍

The United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) with a view to reversing the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean. The Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO will coordinate the Decade’s preparatory process. It is recognised that the aims of the Decade, including improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean, can only be achieved with equal participation from both women and men.

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