Maritime SheEO Conference

Maritime SheEO Conference

Keynote address by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address this Conference.

First, I would like to congratulate Mrs. Sanjam Gupta for organizing this important event. Mrs. Gupta is a well-known maritime leader. She is a great champion of IMO's capacity-building efforts, through her role as a member of the Executive Board  of the World Maritime University (WMU) and through her support for IMO's Women in Maritime programme. Also noteworthy is her work with WISTA. 

I am especially pleased to be joined by Her Excellency Ms. Ine Eriksen Soreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway and His Excellency Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of State for Shipping, India at the opening of the Conference, further showcasing its significance.
Highlight the importance of female representation

Diversity at executive and director level matters. Empowering women fuels thriving economies across the world, spurs growth and development, and benefits everyone working in the global maritime community and beyond.

This is particularly important as we all face the challenge to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must use this opportunity to rebuild from this crisis inclusively, equitably and sustainably, and put women's leadership and contributions at the heart of resilience and recovery.

The Maritime industry will be the foundation for the recovery. Shipping has continued to deliver vital goods during the pandemic. We have seen the professionalism and sacrifice of the world's two million seafarers who continue to transport more than 80% of world trade.  But we need to do more to resolve crew change and ensure crew are repatriated at the end of their contract. How can we promote seafaring as a career when hundreds of thousands of seafarers remain stranded at sea, unable to see their families? 

We are doing our utmost at IMO in this regard and will continue to count on the support and collaboration of our members, the industry and many partners to resolve this crisis.

Through the pandemic and beyond, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure shipping is sustainable.  

People are at the heart of this industry, at every level. We must ensure we manage the sector in such a way that we utilise all talent across the gender divide. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality has to be at the centre of all our activities, ensuring equal representation and decision-making power.

In 2019, the World Maritime theme "Empowering Women in the Maritime Community" was used as a springboard to highlight IMO's work in this area.  

Millions worldwide rallied to the call to get on board with gender equality on social media, and thousands joining in-person events. IMO and many other stakeholders and partners raised awareness of the important contribution that maritime women already make around the world every day, and to actively promote gender equality. Showcasing a commitment to further action at the end of the year, the IMO Assembly adopted a resolution on "Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector".

This journey of inclusivity and diversity is not complete. 

The maritime industry must do more to take advantage of all the talent and capability embodied within the entirety of our diverse population to meet the increasing needs of our global community.

Many initiatives are ongoing. IMO's Women in Maritime programme is now in its 32nd year and continues to provide women from developing countries with access to high-level technical training as well as ongoing strategic support provided to the seven IMO women in maritime networks to improve gender balance in the industry. These capacity-building initiatives continue, through virtual training.  

We have been pleased to welcome WISTA International as an NGO in consultative status into the IMO family. We are now pursing specific initiatives with WISTA, including a survey on the number of women in the maritime sector. The survey will launch soon, and I will be inviting Member States and industry to take part. We need solid data on female participation, so that we can track and quantify our ambitions in what has been a male-dominated sector.

At this Conference, you will be hearing from many role models who represent the sea of change that is happening in maritime – as well as from supporters of all genders. To ensure gender equality, we need to make sure that the next generation knows about the opportunities in the maritime industry. IMO will play a pivotal role in showcasing role models and supporting schemes, which train and mentor the next generation. 

With IMO's help, a new pool of strong and talented women is proving that, the maritime industry is for everyone.

It's not about your gender, it's about what you can do.

I am honored to be invited to address this important Conference and pledge my ongoing support to promoting female leaders and to the advancement of gender equality throughout the maritime sector. Let us continue to be change-makers and to create an inclusive and enabling maritime community for everyone.

Thank you.