Mr. Frederick J. Kenney, Director of Legal and External Affairs at the International Maritime Organization, IMO, London
I have found WISTA to be one of the most effective affinity groups I have ever worked with. The bonding, support and networking opportunities are truly remarkable and quite unique as compared with other maritime industry affinity groups. The growth of WISTA over time demonstrates its value to the shipping industry as a whole. WISTA’s ability to focus on women’s issues and challenges in the maritime sector provides the synergy and support base that can lead to effective solutions, now and in the future.
The best way to attract both men and women to the maritime sector is to ensure greater awareness of the opportunities that exist. The demand for seafarers and other maritime professionals is currently high, and that need is expected to grow significantly over the next 15 years, with many projections indicating the need for tens of thousands of new officers and ratings every year. Yet, if one conducts an internet search on “10 careers most in demand,” seafaring only rarely is mentioned. That needs to change. Past IMO efforts such as the ”Go to Sea” campaign and the recent IMO video “Women at the Helm,” available on YouTube, have been effective. This year, IMO’s campaign for World Maritime Day attracted over 2 million Twitter hits. Next year’s campaign, with the theme “Maritime Education and Training” is expected to produce even more interest and will highlight the opportunities for men and women to enter the maritime industry.
The same practices used to attract men to the maritime industry should work for women, accounting for the reality that in some parts of the world, cultural differences may result in women not becoming aware of the opportunities that exist. IMO is actively working to ensure that women are aware of these opportunities. IMO's programme for the integration of women in the maritime sector, now in its 26th year, has a primary objective to encourage IMO Member States to open the doors of their maritime institutes to enable women to train alongside men and so acquire the high level of competence that the maritime industry demands. Regional harmonization has been a second key priority under IMO's programme, resulting in the establishment, through IMO support, of 6 regional associations for women in the maritime sector covering the following regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands.