On 16 November, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU) delivered the keynote address for the Maritime SheEO conference, speaking of changing leadership paradigms in the maritime industry.
cknowledging the progress made on women’s empowerment and gender equality over the past century or so, President Doumbia-Henry emphasized there is much more to be done to enable all women and girls to enjoy equal opportunity in all countries around the world.
We have to continue fighting for women’s empowerment at all levels and in every field. A crucial tool to achieve this is through education and training
said Dr Doumbia-Henry, highlighting the 2019 Third International Conference on Empowering Women in the Maritime Community hosted by WMU. The Conference identified 17 actions that could be taken to advance gender balance in the maritime and oceans sector.
The key conclusions included promoting women role models, engaging with children in primary and secondary education to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industry for women and securing priority funding for gender research.
However, she further added that “governments, organizations, companies and other employers must change their policies and practices to empower and enable more women to take up leadership positions in maritime.”
Furthermore, Dr Doumbia-Henry spoke of the current global crises that could potentially slow progress on taking forward gender equality, and women’s empowerment:
WMU firmly believes that education will create a lasting impact on capacity building in the maritime and ocean industries. Education remains an indispensable tool that will enable a long-term impact on capacity building for women and future leaders in the maritime and ocean industries
As a matter of fact, WMU is focused on increasing women’s participation in access to educational opportunities in the maritime sector, including at the postgraduate level, in order to advance their full participation in the maritime and ocean industries and inspire leadership for a sustainable maritime and oceans future.
Indicative of this effort is the fact that female student representation at WMU has improved significantly from 3% in 1983 to more than a third of the intake in the MSc programme delivered in Malmö, Sweden, while the WMU MSc programmes delivered in Shanghai, China, have already achieved milestones for gender parity.
There is now no turning back on the achievements made to date. Together, with both men and women at the helm, we will ensure that the shipping and ocean industries continue to play their part to achieve gender equality in the maritime and ocean fields
Dr Doumbia-Henry concluded.