As the maritime world is changing, help from the IMO leads to rewarding career opportunities for women, while a new generation of strong and talented women are responding. As Lieutenant Alma Pinelo, an officer in the Belize Coast Guard, said:
We see more women involved in different departments within the maritime industry, we don't see them in the conventional roles anymore, where cooks and clerks, we see them in engineering, we see them going to sea, you see them in the radio rooms and communications, and intelligence, so it's definitely improved
The programme, launched in 1988, supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. it specifically supports the participation of women in shore-based and sea-going posts, under the slogan Training-Visibility-Recognition, through various gender-specific activities.
Currently, female graduates from IMO's training institutes, the World Maritime University (WMU) and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) hold positions of responsibility across the maritime world. In fact, WMU counts more than 1,000 female graduates to date, while IMLI was the first UN body to include a requirement that 50% of its places be reserved for women.
In addition, IMO has enabled the establishment of seven regional associations for women in the maritime sector throughout Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands, some 152 countries and dependent territories and nearly 500 participants.
These associations support women by providing mentoring and networking opportunities, and many are working to boost careers in maritime to younger people.
Now, there are students in high school that are finding out about the maritime industry now and that's all because of the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC) and the IMO
states Rikki Lambey, Port State Control Officer, Belize.
What is more, studies show that diversity matters, as it is better for teamwork, better for leadership, and better for profits. Except from the social necessity to promote diversity in the 21st century, supply and demand in the labour force mandate that the industry simply cannot afford to ignore women.
However, there are still barriers to overcome and IMO's Women in Maritime programme is helping to address those challenges and work towards diversity and sustainability. Commenting on this, Helen Buni, Focal Point for IMO's Women in Maritime Programme, noted that:
In my opinion, there's never been a better time to close the gender gap, and I would encourage all to get on board with gender equality