Gathering members of the Women in Maritime Associations for Asia (WIMAs), from 22 Asian countries, the conference is looking at ways to implementation the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 5, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

WIMAs aim to deliver the IMO's Programme on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS), giving visibility and recognition to the role women play as key resources for the maritime sector, IMO explained.

Discussions have already identified challenges ahead which will need to be addressed, such as the current political and cultural mind-set as well as varying levels of development among Asian countries. But participants agreed that the exchange of experiences and best practices that are taking place at events like this are already helping to enhance women's education, competency and career development.

The outcome of the conference is expected to align goals within regional WIMAs and thereafter create a single blueprint of global advocacy for the SDGs by women in maritime.

IMO's Helen Buni is speaking at the event which is organized by IMO in cooperation with the Timor Leste's Ministry of Development, Transports and Communications, and the German Development Cooperation Agency.