​This year’s International Day for Women in Maritime will focus on the crucial role of women in ensuring maritime safety worldwide, while highlighting the changing attitudes towards gender in the industry.


​The first IMO Gender Equality Award will be awarded to Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou (Cyprus), for her dedicated service to women in shipping during her tenure as president of WISTA International.

Observed globally on 18 May every year, Women in Maritime Day seeks to raise the profile of women in maritime, while promoting their recruitment, retention and sustained employment in the sector.  

Currently, only 29% of the overall maritime workforce and 20% of the workforce of national maritime authorities are women. Women make up less than 2% of seafarers worldwide.  

Speaking at an international event to mark the occasion on Friday, 17 May 2024, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Mr. Arsenio Dominguez stated:  

“We must – and will – do more. By investing in women's education and professional development, we empower women, drive innovation and foster sustainability within the maritime industry, to the benefit of all.”

The rise of digitalization and automation as well as green technology in the sector will require new skills and potentially signal new career opportunities for women. 

“Change is both necessary and coming… With increase in trade and the transition towards a greener and more sustainable sector, the opportunities to enhance diversity and inclusion are in front of us. I want you all to look at how you can drive understanding, awareness and change within your own organizations,” said Mr. Dominguez. 

He recognized the work carried out under IMO’s long-standing Women in Maritime programme, which takes a three-pronged approach of ‘training-visibility-recognition’ for women.  

Initiated in 1988, the programme supports gender equality and the empowerment of women through gender specific fellowships; access to high-level technical training for women; support for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes; and by facilitating the establishment of professional women in maritime associations, particularly in developing countries.  

IMO is strongly committed to helping its Member States achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

Safe Horizons - Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety

IMO is hosting an international symposium on Friday, 17 May 2024 at IMO Headquarters in London, under the theme ‘Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety.’  

The Symposium features a line-up of distinguished seafarers, maritime professionals and maritime leaders who will speak about reframing maritime safety through a woman’s lens, and how to implement a holistic approach to safety at sea, taking into account gender considerations.  

As part of the programme, the first-ever IMO Gender Equality Award will be handed to Ms. Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou of Cyprus, former President of the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International).   

The event will be livestreamed on IMO’s Youtube Channel. Full details can be found here: International Day for Women in Maritime 2024.


Social media

IMO is inviting women in maritime and the entire maritime community to celebrate the day on social media using the hashtag #WomenInMaritimeDay, tagging IMO on X (formerly Twitter); LinkedIn; Instagram; and Facebook to spread the message.