Promoting women's access to quality employment and senior management level within the maritime sector is a key priority for International Maritime Organization (IMO)'s gender and capacity-building program and was at the core of the 8th regional conference to support the Association of Women Managers in the Maritime Sector in East and Southern Africa (WOMESA), held in Mahé, Seychelles (September 26 to 29).
Under the theme "A Decade of empowering Maritime Women - What does the future hold for Africa's Blue Economy?", the event, supported by the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA), focused on the key achievements made by the Association over the last decade, as it celebrates its milestone 10th anniversary.
Since its establishment under the auspices of IMO in Kenya in 2007, WOMESA has established strong governance and strategic principles aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular (SDG 5) which aims to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls", as well as IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Program (ITCP).
IMO is encouraging its Member States to place a greater emphasis on incorporating women in the maritime field. The setting up of these networks and regional associations is key, as it provides a platform for women to discuss gender issues and help each other climb the professional ladder. At the end of the conference, WOMESA launched its latest local chapter in the Seychelles, joining others in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The conference also adopted a resolution, setting out WOMESA's obligations and responsibilities to achieving the SDGs and related targets, to ensure that the purpose of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realized through the Association's work program.
This resolution also calls for strengthened strategic partnerships between WOMESA and organizations, including the African Union (AU) Commission (through its Women, Gender and Development Directorate), the African Ship Owners Association (ASA), the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA) and IMO. The aim of such partnerships is to build cooperation in pursuance of programs to empower maritime women for visibility, networking, linkages and implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
The conference was attended by maritime officials from Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.