Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Member States of the IMO have urged further firm action in coming years to advance gender equality throughout the maritime sector and reach a barrier-free environment, following a year of action to “empower women in the maritime community” – the World Maritime theme for 2019.
IMO Assembly adoption of resolution
The IMO Assembly, meeting for its 31st session from 25 November to 4 December adopted a resolution on Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector.
This resolution urges governments, maritime administrations and the industry to endeavour to reach a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding activities.
Furthermore, the resolution notes testimony from women from across the various maritime industries which demonstrates that barriers and obstacles still exist at every level. Work towards gender equality, including the fostering of a safe environment for women in the maritime sector, remains incomplete and should continue to be pursued.
Governments, maritime administrations and the industry should consider ways to continuously identify and overcome existing constraints in all aspects of the maritime sector, in particular, in terms of recruitment, promotion, training, capacity-building and technical cooperation.
Additionally, the resolution encourages sharing of best practices in achieving gender equality. It also encourages efforts to collect, consolidate and analyse data relating to the participation of women in the maritime sector, in order to establish an evidentiary foundation that will set baselines, identify gaps and inform policies aimed at removing barriers and increasing female participation in the sector.
Finally, the resolution also encourages IMO, and its relevant subsidiary bodies to take into consideration gender equality, including the fostering of a safe environment for women in the maritime sector, and integrate these considerations into their work. Open dialogue and wider engagement between the Member States and observer delegations is encouraged.
A barrier-free environment
An IMO media briefing of 5 December on the topic of gender equality informed that creation of a barrier-free environment for women will help facilitate the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality.
WMD 2019 theme
World Maritime Day’s theme in 2019 was Empowering women in the maritime community. This has helped raise awareness of the importance of gender equality and highlight the important, yet under-utilized, contribution of women within the maritime sector. Many maritime stakeholders have enthusiastically taken up the theme at seminars, conferences and panel discussions, it is reported.
Throughout the year, IMO worked with various maritime stakeholders to help create an environment in which women are identified and selected for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes and to encourage more conversation for gender equality in the maritime space.
Encouragement of associations
IMO’s Women in Maritime programme has pushed forward with numerous activities, including premiering a new film, launching profiles of women in the maritime sector and providing support to Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs) launched through the programme.
The illustration here is reproduced by kind courtesy of IMO ©
Seafarers UK is a charity that has been helping those in the maritime community for over 100 years, by providing vital support to seafarers in need and their families.
This aid has been achieved by grants to organisations and projects across the Merchant Navy, the Fishing Fleets, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
In 2019 Seafarers UK awarded 53 grants totalling £2.2m to 43 maritime welfare charities.
On 3 April Seafarers UK made an open appeal on the world wide web to draw attention to the unprecedented times when the effects of COVID-19 are being felt all over the world with the seafaring community being no exception.
As an island nation, the UK is particularly dependent on its seafarers to keep the UK supplied with food, medicine, fuel and other essential supplies. As such, the Government has acknowledged the importance of those who work in the supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic and has officially designated seafarers as key workers.
As the world fights the Coronavirus pandemic seafarers are silently playing a vital role in keeping the nation afloat, under extremely challenging and unpredictable conditions.
On 2 April cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam disembarked more than 1,200 passengers in Port Everglades, Florida. These developments, combined with one remaining disembarkation being coordinated, represents the processing of more than 120 vessels in the last three weeks to remove 250,000 passengers from cruise ships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was reported by USCG HQ Media service from Washington.
US Coast Guard, under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and working with Department of Homeland Security partners Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as well as state and local entities from multiple port jurisdictions, facilitated the safe landing, screening, quarantine and repatriation of these passengers in a manner that has prevented further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many passengers were brought to safe harbour in the United States when international ports refused entry.