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 ©
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).