The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council has decided to establish an International Day for Women in Maritime, to be observed on 18 May every year.
IMO’s gender program was first initiated in 1988. At that time, only a few maritime training institutes opened their doors to female students. Since then, IMO’s gender and capacity-building program has helped put in place an institutional framework to incorporate a gender dimension into IMO’s policies and procedures.
The proposal to establish an International Day for Women in Maritime was first addressed by IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee (TCC) in September 2021 following the momentum of the world maritime theme in 2019 “Empowering women in the maritime community.” The proposal received wide support from the TCC Technical Cooperation Committee in forwarding the proposal to the council.
Today, women represent only 1.2% percent of the global seafarer workforce as per the BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report. This represents a positive trend in gender balance, with the report estimating 24,059 women serving as seafarers, which is a 45.8% increase compared with the 2015 report.
Within this historically male-dominated industry, IMO has been making a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve representation.
Within the framework of maritime development, and through its Women in Maritime program, under the slogan: “Training-Visibility-Recognition”, IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. The maritime organization has so far supported the participation of women in both shore-based and sea-going posts.
Once adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2021, the initiative will support women in the industry, promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector and raise the profile of women in maritime,
Additionally, it will strengthen IMO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”), which is a part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable woDevelopment) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.
Recently, the IMO adopted a resolution consolidating issues related to crew change, access to medical care, ʺkey workerʺ designation and seafarers’ prioritization for COVID-19 vaccination.