Since being founded in 1983 under the auspices of the international Maritime Organisation (IMO) which is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for safe, secure ans efficient-shipping and the prevention of pollution from ships, the World Maritime University (WMU) has been commited to the advancement of women. To further the efforts to achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in honour of the IMO World Maritime Day theme for 2019, « Empowering Women in the Maritime Community, » over 350 participants from more than 70 countries around the world gathered in Malmo, for the WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference from 4-5 April to address the gender gap in the maritime, oceans, ports, fishing and related industries.
The event identified opportunites to encourage women to pursue careers in the maritime and ocean sectors, an industry still largely male dominated, and called for action from maritime and other stakeholders in support of achieving the UN SDGs, in particular Goal 5 related to gender equality. Stakeholders from maritime and ocean sectors shared their experience in policy making, in ports or at sea. A recurring point of the discussions emphasized that gender equality is not simply an issue for women as everyone must make an effort at an individual order to achieve it. In a video message, the IMO Secretary General, Mr. Kitack Lim, a graduate from WMU said « The maritime world needs all hands on deck, both male and female, to continue to carry the world’s goods in a clean, safe and efficient manner. »
A set of conclusions was drafted as a result of the 2 day discussions reflecting the participants firm commitment to cooperate, coordinate and collaborate in the development and implementation of gender-responsive policies and related programmes in their respective sectors and areas of responsability. Among the key points are :
- Enforce genger-responsive policies ;
- Update statistics on women professionals in all sea-related activities ;
- Promote role models ;
- Engage with children in primary and secondary education to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industry ;
- Ensure equal employment opportunity and pay ;
WMU offered neutral ground for lively discussions and a unique networking opportunity. Among the people met were an outstanding Cameroonian from Bamenda, who is the first African lady to graduate as cruise pilot in the United States of America, and WMU Cameroonian scholarships students, on study leave from their respective administrations, including the Ministry of Transports.