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Women in maritime



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Back in 1988, few maritime training institutes opened their doors to female students. IMO was in the vanguard of United Nations specialized agencies that forged a global programme known as the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector. Carried out over several phases, it put in place an institutional framework to incorporate a gender dimension into IMO's policies and procedures, with resolutions adopted to ensure access to maritime training and employment opportunities for women in the maritime sector. Today, IMO's Women in Maritime programme is still going strong after 30 years of activities.

Female graduates of IMO’s global training institutes, the World Maritime University (WMU) and the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) are today working as maritime administrators and decision makers. They have a positive impact as role models in encouraging new female recruits. IMO also supports the empowerment of women through gender-specific fellowships; by facilitating access to high-level technical training for women in the maritime sector in developing countries.

IMO has supported the creation of seven regional associations for women in the maritime sector across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. Access to these regional networks have provided members with a platform to discuss gender issues; a golden thread of worldwide maritime communication and improved implementation of IMO instruments.

Here are a few examples of how IMO is addressing the issue of gender equality.

Maritime women - Global leadership
The maritime industry needs more women, particularly in leadership roles. The World Maritime University (WMU) and IMO have published a book to highlight the achievements of women in the maritime sector. 

The World Maritime University (WMU) book - Maritime Women: Global Leadership - is a compilation of scientific papers presented at the ‘Maritime Women: Global Leadership’ international conference hosted by WMU in 2014. You can read abstracts here.
Making Waves - film
IMO in 2015 launched the video “Making Waves: women leaders in the maritime world” in support of International Women’s Day 2015. The video reports on continuing efforts by IMO and the World Maritime University (WMU) to promote the advancement of women in shipping. It puts the spotlight on the outcome of the 2014 “Maritime Women: Global Leadership” conference held by WMU in Malmo, Sweden, and co-sponsored by IMO. The conference attracted women and men from more than 70 countries to discuss the advancement of women throughout the maritime professions. 

Women at the helm - film
Another IMO film, Women at the helm , shows how the work of IMO, and others, is beginning to promote change for the better for women in shipping, and highlights first-hand experiences from some of those who have already succeeded.

The film held its official launch during the regional conference in the Republic of Korea, held in  April 2013, on the development of a global strategy for women seafarers.
The conference, held in Busan, Republic of Korea, organized and funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), and hosted by the Korean Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology (KIMFT), together with IMO, adopted a declaration of intent towards the development of a Global Strategy for Women Seafarers.

The conference adopted the Busan Declaration, in which the participants agreed to forge partnerships and solicit support of government agencies, as well as international and regional bodies to facilitate the implementation of a Global Strategy for Women Seafarers.

More about IMO`s Women in Maritime

IMO's gender programme, formerly known as the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS) has a primary objective to encourage IMO Member States to open the doors of their maritime institutes to enable women to train alongside men and so acquire the high-level of competence that the maritime industry demands. The programme includes but is not limited to, strengthening national and regional capacities through gender-specific fellowships; facilitating access to high-level technical training for women in the maritime sector in developing countries; and facilitating the identification and selection of women by their respective authorities for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes.

IMO continues to support the participation of women in both shore-based and sea-going posts, in line with the goals outlined under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls", under the slogan: Training-Visibility-Recognition.

 IMO's gender and capacity-building programme is now 30 years old and continues to empower women fuels thriving economies, spurs productivity and growth, and benefits every stakeholder in the global maritime community.