Safe Horizons: Happy International Women in Maritime Day

May 16, 2024 · 9 mins read ·

Maritime Industry
AI generated image of a female working in a seafarer job

May 18th marks the annual International Day of Women in Maritime, a significant occasion dedicated to acknowledging and promoting the vital role of women working in seafarer jobs in the maritime sector. This day serves not only as a celebration but also as a platform to address the ongoing challenges and disparities faced by women in this traditionally male-dominated field. 

As we dive into the day’s history, this year’s theme, and the avenues through which women can carve successful careers in maritime, we encourage an inclusive dialogue that champions diversity and equality.

But first of all, let’s take a look at how the International Day of Women in Maritime came to be.

The history of the International Day of Women in Maritime

The International Day of Women in Maritime was officially established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to recognize and amplify the contributions of women working in seafarer jobs and within the maritime industry as a whole. The day was first celebrated on May 18th 2022.

Read more: The International Day for Women in Maritime 2023

The IMO, a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping, introduced the observance as part of its broader agenda to ensure a diverse and inclusive maritime sector. This initiative aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The International Day of Women in Maritime theme 2024

Each year, the International Day of Women in Maritime is celebrated under a specific theme that highlights critical areas of focus or concern. The theme acts as a catalyst to foster discussions, drive initiatives, and inspire action towards resolving the highlighted issues. 

This year’s theme, “Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety” aims to spotlight the empowerment of women through education, training, and professional development, emphasizing the importance of creating opportunities that enhance their participation and advancement in maritime careers.

How to celebrate the International Day of Women in Maritime

The IMO has shared several ways that anyone can participate in this year’s observance, whether you’re working in a job at sea, in a shore-based maritime job, or are not connected to shipping but are interested in gender equality in the workplace.

For example, as per the IMO:

  • Symposium:  a symposium will take place on May 17th 2024 under the theme of "Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety". The symposium will include keynote speakers, panel sessions and the presentation of the 2024 IMO Gender Equality Award. To find out more, including how to participate and register, take a look at this page on the IMO’s website.
  • Social media: once again, whether you’re a woman working in a job at sea or you’re in a shore-based maritime job, the IMO is encouraging female seafarers to share your pictures of maritime safety through a woman's lens. They invite women in maritime, and indeed, everyone working in the maritime industry, to celebrate the day on social media using the hashtag #WomenInMaritimeDay. 

Don’t forget to tag the IMO on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn which will enable the IMO to see and share some of the posts, bringing wider attention to the cause! 

How to forge a successful career in the maritime industry as a female seafarer

We’ve talked before about women working in seafarer jobs and the facts and statistics you need to know, but we thought it bears repeating as we approach the International Day of Women in Maritime.

Because, despite the pivotal role that the maritime industry plays in the global economy, facilitating over 80% of world trade by volume, women remain significantly underrepresented, especially in leadership and technical roles. 

However, with the growing awareness and targeted efforts by various organizations, there are increasing opportunities for women to forge successful careers in this sector. 

Here are some strategies that can help women navigate and excel in the maritime industry:

Education and professional training

Education is the cornerstone of career development in any field, and maritime jobs are no exception. Women aspiring to enter the shipping industry should focus on acquiring relevant academic qualifications and professional training. 

This can range from maritime studies and marine engineering to navigation, logistics, and environmental marine science. Institutions like the World Maritime University and various maritime academies worldwide offer specialized programs designed to prepare individuals of all genders for this challenging industry.

Networking and mentorship

Building a robust professional network and finding mentors within the industry can significantly influence career growth. Women should actively seek out networking opportunities through industry conferences, seminars, and online platforms such as LinkedIn.

Additionally, joining professional associations like the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) can provide valuable support and resources.

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

Advocacy and visibility

Women in maritime, including those working in seafarer jobs, can gain visibility and advocate for gender equality by participating in discussions and panels, contributing to industry publications, and engaging in community outreach to educate and inspire future generations about maritime careers. 

Visibility not only helps in professional growth but also contributes to breaking stereotypes and encouraging more women to join the sector.

Leveraging technology and innovation

The maritime industry is increasingly driven by technology and innovation, from maritime crew management software, automation and digitalization to environmental sustainability efforts. Women can leverage these trends by developing skills in emerging areas such as maritime data analysis, cybersecurity in shipping, or environmental compliance. 

These skills will not only make you competitive as a maritime job candidate, but also indispensable in the evolving landscape of the maritime industry.

How companies can help: work-life balance and inclusive policies

Achieving a work-life balance is crucial, particularly in demanding fields like maritime and while working in a job at sea doesn’t lend itself so well to the concept, there is still a lot shipping companies and manning agencies can do to encourage women to work in the maritime industry.

For example, businesses that prioritize flexible working conditions, maternity (and paternity) leave policies, and other support systems for women help in retaining talent and ensuring employee satisfaction and loyalty. 

Wherever possible, women, both those looking for a job ashore such as in maritime recruitment, or those who are looking for a seafarer job, should try to seek out employers who demonstrate these values and who contribute to creating an inclusive workplace culture.

Happy International Women in Maritime Day: final thoughts

The International Day of Women in Maritime is not only a day to celebrate the achievements of women but also a reminder of the work that remains to be done to achieve true gender parity in the maritime industry. 

By focusing on education, advocacy, and technological advancement, women can not only thrive in this sector but also pave the way for future generations. As the maritime world continues to evolve, the involvement of women will be crucial in steering the industry towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.

And if you’re looking for your next job at sea, whatever your gender, take a look at Martide’s online maritime jobs board and see if we have the right rank and vessel for you.

It goes without saying that we’re happy to hear from all seafarers, whatever your gender, race, nationality or background. So why not create a free Martide account now and start your next seafarer job search today!

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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