WMU Represented at IMO’s Regional Conference on the Development of a Global Strategy for Women Seafarers

World Maritime University


WMU Lecturer, Dr. Mimoko Kitada, makes a presentation at the conference

Less than two percent of the global seafarers are comprised of women. This substantially low number was the center of attention at IMO’s Regional Conference on the Development of a Global Strategy for Women Seafarers 2013, in Busan, Republic of Korea 16-19 April. The four-day conference was aimed at developing an international strategy to increase opportunities for women seafarers. 

Led by Mrs. Pamela Tansey, Senior Deputy Director of IMO’s Technical Co-operation Committee, and attended by maritime industry professionals and cadets from the Asia-Pacific region, the conference brought forth concerns from companies with recommended approaches to increasing opportunities for women seafarers. WMU Lecturers, LCDR Erin Williams seconded from the U.S. Coast Guard and Dr. Momoko Kitada, engaged with the numerous seafarers, shipping company personnel, and maritime administration representatives to initiate a global strategy for women seafarers.

The week included presentations of influential research highlighting the most significant women seafaring issues. Dr. Kitada's research regarding the present state of women seafarers in the world was featured and she discussed how women seafarers are coping with challenges both on board and ashore in terms of their gender identity management. The study revealed that women seafarers tend to develop various strategies to cope with the gender-related issues and the patterns of changing strategies were scientifically modeled. Her research raised several key issues to target for the employment of women seafarers such as overt abuse and covert discrimination, work-life balance, and systematic problems. Dr. Kitada further emphasized the importance of supporting active women seafarers by mentoring and establishing a reporting system when they encounter problems. 'More research must be done in order to reflect women's voices to policy-making', Dr. Kitada concluded.

Also presenting at the conference was 2008 WMU graduate So-hyun Jo, currently serving as an Assistant Professor at the Korea Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology (KIMFT). She presented her dissertation research on the social recognition of women seafaring. Specifically, Professor Jo discussed the gap between the perception and reality of women who sail, noting that 68% of men with sailing experience appreciated working alongside their female counterparts. She identified the need for better integration of women seafarers noting that improvements should be made in areas of support and motivation, equal opportunity policy, and training and education.

The conference concluded with the signing and adoption of the Bussan Declaration which sets the stage for developing a global strategy for women seafarers. This strategy is forthcoming from IMO.

Following the success of the IMO regional conference in Busan and building on the UN Millennium Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women, WMU will host the international symposium ‘Maritime Women: Global Leadership’  31 March - 1 April 2014. The event is anticipated to bring individuals from around the globe to Malmö, Sweden where issues facing women in the various maritime sectors will be discussed and the work of the Bussan Declaration will be carried forward.

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