The International Maritime Organisation and WISTA, the umbrella organisation for professional women in the shipping industry, signed a landmark technical cooperation agreement to encourage greater diversity and empower women in the maritime world.
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed at the IMO headquarters in London, aims to promote greater diversity and inclusion through enhanced cooperation activities in the maritime field.
It was signed by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and WISTA International President Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou.
The IMO said that “these activities will lay the groundwork for further discussion on how a diverse workforce will be essential for a sustainable future”.
Initiatives already underway include a study to collect and analyse data on the number of women employed in the maritime sector and developing a database of female experts in a wide range of maritime subjects available for speaking engagements to make panels more diverse.
Other initiatives aim to support implementation of IMO Assembly Resolution A.1147(31) on preserving the legacy of the world maritime theme for 2019 and achieving a barrier-free working environment for women in the maritime sector.
Another key part of the MoU is to strengthen cooperation and share best practices between the IMO-established regional women in maritime associations (WIMAs) and WISTA International’s national associations.
WISTA said the IMO theme 2019 ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’ was dedicated to women in shipping.
“This provided the opportunity to promote diversity and inclusion in the maritime sector, as well as lay the groundwork for open discussion on how diverse workforce will provide for a sustainable future,” said a WISTA statement.
“It has also made evident that more actions need to be taken to reach the goal of a truly diverse industry. Diversity, including gender diversity, is a responsibility for all and key to the sustainability of the maritime sector.”
Through its consultative status with the IMO, WISTA said that it can formally contribute to the discussion for increasing capacity in the maritime industry, “a critical component” of which is promoting women in the industry, both shoreside and shipboard, and also showcasing the varied technical skills and leadership that women bring to the industry.
“WISTA International is an active participant at IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee and is playing an increasing role at other technical committees on maritime environmental protection and maritime safety, where applicable.”
Following the MoU signing, a WISTA information session was held at the IMO headquarters to raise awareness of the work of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) and its regional and national branches, and offer advice on how to join the association.