Gender equality for a sustainable future

Blog of the week is by Gina Panayiotou highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion for a sustainable global economy.


Answering the question whether gender equality for a sustainable future is a non-negotiable, a line-up of candidates for next International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General all agreed that this is not a statement, but rather a fact that is not up for discussion. You cannot progress as a society leaving half of the society behind and key to success in the path towards gender equality is a need to re-brand as an industry, move away from its’ traditional image to a modern IMO and consequently an exciting maritime sector which offers many “cool jobs” and visible role-models.

In light of International Women in Maritime Day, celebrated annually on the 18th of May, Oceans Arena Stage, hosted by Gina Panayiotou, featured a panel discussion with 4 out of the 7 candidates for the upcoming IMO Secretary General elections. Ambassador Nancy Karigithu, Kenya, Ms Minna Kivimäki, Finland, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez, Panama and Captain Moin Ahmed, Bangladesh share their thoughts on the role of women for sustainable future in maritime, the challenges, what we can do for greater gender equality and what their 3 wishes to Aladdin’s magic genie would be in this respect.

Each panellists brought to the table perspectives from their personal journeys and experiences, while some recurring themes throughout the discussion was that diversity and inclusion are of paramount importance for a sustainable global economy, if we want more females onboard we need zero-tolerance policies when it comes to safety, ongoing support and conditions which cater to their  needs, while it is also important to ensure a seafaring career is perceived as a long-term one, where they can transition between sea and shore with ease and back if they wish to do so. In increasing the number of women ashore, it was noted that we need to make role-models more visible, start encouraging women from school age to follow STEM pathways and be aware early on of the numerous career options in maritime, while we also need to address recruitment processes and the language used within the sector, to ensure women feel welcomed.

It is an industry which requires people from all educational levels, low skilled, middle skilled and highly skilled members of society can make an economic contribution and ignoring women, that being half of the population in this journey means we are failing to prosper. It calls for government and industry to work together so we can all rise together. It was also highlighted that there is a need for the IMO to set the right example, so it can then share the message outside the organisation.

In concluding, all panellists were asked: “If you were given Aladdin’s magic genie or a magic wand, to action 3 steps from A-Z that would shift the dynamics on gender equality in maritime, what would those 3 things/wishes be?” While all answers echoed what was discussed throughout the conversation, it was interesting to hear from each how they would best utilize these wishes; if wishes and magic is what we need. You can hear what they had to say here.

Happy International Women in Maritime Day! May each year this day bring us closer to reaching SGD5 in maritime and beyond, even before the set 2030 target as suggested by one of the panellists.

MARPRO’s blog of the week is shared by courtesy of Gina Panayiotou and the OceansArena –

For more articles about women in maritime, click here.

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