Women in Merchant Navy

Shipping has historically been a male-dominated industry and that tradition runs long and deep. However, through its global programme on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector, IMO is making a concerted effort to help the industry move on from that tradition and to help women achieve a representation within it that is more in keeping with twenty-first century expectations.

Maritime women – Global leadership
The maritime industry needs more women, particularly in leadership roles. The World Maritime University (WMU) and IMO have published a book to highlight the achievements of women in the maritime sector.
The book – Maritime Women: Global Leadership – is a compilation of scientific papers presented at the ‘Maritime Women: Global Leadership’ international conference hosted by WMU last year, in cooperation with IMO.


Making Waves – film
IMO in 2015 launched the video “Making Waves: women leaders in the maritime world” in support of International Women’s Day 2015. The video reports on continuing efforts by IMO and the World Maritime University (WMU) to promote the advancement of women in shipping. It puts the spotlight on the outcome of the 2014 “Maritime Women: Global Leadership” conference held by WMU in Malmo, Sweden, and co-sponsored by IMO. The conference attracted women and men from more than 70 countries to discuss the advancement of women throughout the maritime professions. ​
Women at the helm – film

Another IMO film, Women at the helm​, shows how the work of IMO, and others, is beginning to promote change for the better for women in shipping, and highlights first-hand experiences from some of those who have already succeeded.

The film held its official launch during the regional conference in the Republic of Korea, held from 16 to 19 April 2013, on the development of a global strategy for women seafarers.

The conference, held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 16 to 19 April 2013, organized and funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), and hosted by the Korean Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology (KIMFT), together with IMO, adopted a declaration of intent towards the development of a Global Strategy for Women Seafarers.

The conference adopted the Busan Declaration, in which the participants agreed to forge partnerships and solicit support of government agencies, as well as international and regional bodies to facilitate the implementation of a Global Strategy for Women Seafarers.
The conference also adopted a slogan to promote women seafaring: “Go to sea TOGETHER”.
IMO’s Programme on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS)
IMO’s programme for the integration of women in the maritime sector, now celebrating its 25th 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.
IMO continues to support the participation of women in both shore based and sea going posts, in line with the goals outlined under the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 “Promote gender equality and empower women”,  under the slogan: Training- Visibility – Recognition.