The International Day for Women in Maritime 2023

May 18, 2023 · 7 mins read ·

Maritime Industry
IMO's logo for the International Day for Women in Maritime

May 18th is the International Day for Women in Maritime. And although the first one was only held last year in 2022, this year sees the observance day return for what is sure to be its second of many. 

It is crucial that women who work in the shipping industry are recognized as they often face considerably more challenges than their male counterparts, which is why we’re dedicating this blog post, published on the International Day for Women in Maritime, to the hardworking female seafarers across the globe.

What is the International Day for Women in Maritime?

Just as there is a Day of the Seafarer which recognize all genders who work in jobs at sea, as well as a World Maritime Day which highlights different aspects of the industry, the International Day for Women in Maritime was founded by the IMO to

”...celebrate women in the industry and is intended to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO's commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.”

You can find out more about the IMO's Women in Maritime Programme here.

What is this year’s International Day for Women in Maritime theme?

The IMO’s observance days all have themes to pinpoint a cause and shine a spotlight on a certain area. The theme of the International Day for Women in Maritime 2022 was "Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment.” So what is the theme for this year?

Read more: How to Encourage More Women to Apply for Maritime Jobs

The 2023 theme for the International Day for Women in Maritime is ”Mobilizing networks for gender equality.” with the rallying cry being “Women in maritime can…”

Has the Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim released a message?

As always, the Secretary-General of the IMO, Kitack Lim, has released a message in which he focuses on the need for collaboration and networking within the maritime industry to act as a catalyst for change and to accelerate the journey towards true gender equality.

You can read Kitack Lim’s statement in full here.

Read more: Women in Maritime: The Stats You Need to Know

What happens on the International Day for Women in Maritime?

Activities during and around the International Day for Women in Maritime 2023 include a two-day global conference in which the eight regional Women in Maritime Associations will take part. 

The conference sees panels, discussions and presentations covering topics such as breaking the glass ceiling, sustainability in shipping, men as allies, and increasing the visibility of women in maritime via social media and websites.  

Why is gender equality important?

According to the IMO, there is plenty of evidence that shows that investing in women is the most effective way to “lift communities, companies, and even countries.”

It has been proven that nations that have greater gender balance actually gain from better economic growth. In addition to this, companies that have a greater proportion of female leaders perform better.

The IMO also states that “Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.”

Therefore, the evidence is pretty strong to suggest that gender equality and more visibility for  women across all industries and sectors means more progress for everyone.

And that includes the shipping sector too.

Read more: 4 Reasons Why There Are So Few Women in Seafarer Jobs

However, according to the BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report the percentage of women seafarers is a tiny fraction of the workforce. How small? As of 2021, just 1.2% of seafarers are female.

That equates to around 24,059 women working at sea and yet, as miniscule as that fraction is, the trend is positive. Consider that compared to the findings of the 2015 report this is an increase of 45.8%. 

So what are the IMO doing to help continue this upwards trend? They are “…making a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve a representation that is in keeping with twenty-first century expectations.”

How? In the IMO’s own words by:

  • Supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women through gender specific fellowships
  • Facilitating access to high-level technical training for women in the maritime sector in developing countries
  • Creating an environment in which women are identified and selected for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes
  • Facilitating the establishment of professional women in maritime associations, particularly in developing countries.

We’ve a long way to go, but it seems that the future is looking rosy for women who want to work at sea.

How can you get involved in the International Day for Women in Maritime?

The IMO is inviting everyone who works in the maritime industry, but in particular women, to promote and celebrate the day on social media. 

Use the hashtag #WomenInMaritimeDay on your posts whether you work in the sector or are interested in a career working at sea or in one of the many shore-based maritime jobs, such as those in ports and terminals.

Read more: Who is Supporting Women Seafarers in Jobs at Sea?

All that leaves us to say is a very big thank you to all the women working at sea, from Deck Cadets and Bosuns to Cooks and from Engineers to Chief Officers and Masters. We salute you all for your hard work and dedication to pursuing a career in what can be an extremely male dominated environment.

Happy International Day for Women in Maritime 2023!  

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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