ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group Celebrates Women in Maritime

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ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group Celebrates Women in Maritime
Siti Habsah binti Harun
Department of Partnerships and Projects, International Maritime Organization
Transport Division, ASEAN Economic Community Department
28 Jun 2023
Gender

The second International Day for Women in Maritime was celebrated early at the 44th ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group Meeting (MTWG) in Da Nang, Viet Nam. The meeting, held on 9-11 May 2023, discussed strategic plans to enhance regional maritime cooperation and catalyse maritime decarbonisation in the ASEAN region. During the meeting, there were also presentations and discussions on measures to improve the diversity and competencies of the workforce in the maritime transport sector.

The 44th ASEAN MTWG meeting was hosted by the Vietnam Maritime Administration (VINAMARINE), an agency under Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport. In attendance were International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim; Deputy Minister of Transport for Viet Nam Nguyen Xuan Sang; representatives from the ASEAN Member States; and the ASEAN Secretariat. Also represented were dialogue partners, particularly China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the US, and other ASEAN partner organisations.

During his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the meeting, the IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim spoke about the second International Day for Women in Maritime. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “This is the second year we are marking 18 May as a key moment in our calendar to celebrate women in the industry and to promote the recruitment, retention, and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector.” He noted that this year’s theme, “Mobilising Networks for Gender Equality,” recognises the importance of networking to support the advancement of women in the maritime workforce.

During the celebration, the 44th MTWG Chairman, Hoang Hong Giang, awarded a Certificate of Competency to Viet Nam’s first female machine officer, Hua Nguyen Hoai Thuong. She graduated from Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport with a degree in ship engine operations. While it is not uncommon for women to study ship engineering in Vietnam, many prefer to work in offices after graduating. Hua Nguyen Hoai Thuong, however, chose a different path. She worked in the engine room of an ocean liner, inspiring other women to chart a similar career path.

According to the IMO WISTA Women in Maritime Survey 2021, women make up less than two per cent of workers at sea (mostly in the cruise industry), and 29 per cent across all subsectors of the maritime industry, including, for instance, marketing, recruitment and port operations. Only 20 per cent of the maritime authority workforce in the Member States are women.

Much needs to be done to support women to achieve fair representation in the sector in keeping with 21st-century expectations and to ensure a balanced and diverse workforce that can help the industry move forward. This is particularly important in the context of ASEAN, where countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and Malaysia contribute a significant share of workers to the global seafaring community, and play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth and safe operations of shipping networks.

In this connection, the IMO is committed to facilitating professional networks to improve gender balance in the shipping world, including through the creation of eight Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs) in Africa, Arab States, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. These offer mentoring, training, and other opportunities to support women in maritime and cultivate the next generation’s interest in the maritime industry.

IMO-funded opportunities at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute and the IMO course on ”Women in Port Management,” and the Maritime SheEO Leadership Accelerator Programme that IMO launched in 2022 provide avenues for women in maritime to develop technical expertise and advance their careers.

Recognising the importance of closer cooperation, the 44th MTWG meeting also deliberated the draft Memorandum of Understanding between IMO and ASEAN, which will become the way forward for strengthening knowledge-sharing and building capacity within the maritime workforce in the Southeast Asia region. It is hoped that this stronger cooperation will result in substantive and meaningful joint projects that are mutually beneficial, to catalysing decarbonisation and digitalisation of maritime transport in the region, and also to improve seafarers’ welfare, through competency improvements and the sharing of best practices.

IMO’s International Day for Women in Maritime is observed on 18 May each year to celebrate women in the industry. This event promotes women’s recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women to address the gender imbalance in the maritime sector, and highlights IMO’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Photo Credit: ©Vietnam Maritime Administration (VINAMARINE)
This is the second year we are marking 18 May as a key moment in our calendar to celebrate women in the industry and to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector.
Viet Nam’s first female machine officer, Ms Hua Nguyen Hoai Thuong, Photo Credit: ©Vietnam Maritime Administration (VINAMARINE)
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