International Women’s Day 2019

International Women’s Day (IWD) was established in the early 1900s and celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and is celebrated annually on 8 March.

The World Maritime University (WMU), since it was established in 1983 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has been committed to the advancement of women in the maritime sector. To date 1,029 women have graduated from WMU. The 2030 United Nations Development Goals (UNSDGs), in particular Goals 4, 5 and 8, are related to the advancement of women in the maritime and ocean professions, and thus to the 2019 World Maritime Day Theme, Empowering Women in the Maritime Community. These goals, among others, have been integrated into the strategic directions of the World Maritime University.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, stated that the University has proven that it is possible to make changes in a short period of time. Until the late 1990s, female students made up less than 5 per cent of the Malmö intake for its MSc in Maritime Affairs. A recruitment strategy with strong support from fellowship donors has resulted in the proportion of female students rising to roughly a third of the annual intake in Malmö, and last year the MSc in International Transport and Logistics (ITL) Class in Shanghai achieved gender parity with 50 per cent female students.

President Doumbia-Henry stated, “WMU has an important role to play in addressing the obstacles that impede the empowerment of women in order to enhance maritime and ocean governance. Education is the most powerful motor to deliver change and to change gender stereotypes. At WMU, we are well equipped to help promote gender equality in maritime and ocean industries and encourage young women to go to sea, to opt for a rewarding maritime career whether on board ship or ashore and to ensure that our national maritime schools attract new generations of women and enable them to take advantage of a maritime career.”

The World Maritime University Women’s Association (WMUWA) will host an IWD seminar on 11 March for students and staff reflecting the official IWD 2019 theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart and Innovate for Change”. The objectives of the WMUWA are to connect, educate and inspire women in the maritime industry and to promote the interests of female maritime professionals through the creation of an international network for women from the WMU and women involved in other internationally recognized female associations in the maritime sector.

WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference

To address the gender gap in the maritime, oceans, ports, fishing and related industries, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that the theme of World Maritime Day 2019 will be “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”. According to the IMO, the selection of this theme provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to highlight the important contribution of women all over the world to the maritime sector. In 2019, WMU will therefore host its Third International Women’s Conference from 4-5 April 2019 on the theme “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.

The Conference will bring together participants from governments and industry, including the maritime, ocean and port sectors, as well as UN agencies, academia, research institutes, NGOs, media and WMU/IMLI alumni. The aim is to identify and address gaps in current policies and programmes that hinder women’s access to employment opportunities in pursuing careers in the maritime, port and ocean sectors, and to actively promote and implement strategies and policies that will change the current landscape. This is a call for action in support of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 5 (gender equality).

To learn more about the efforts of IMO and WMU to promote gender equality click here.