2019 Theme: Empowering women in the maritime community

The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country, but it is always to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of September.


2019 Theme: Empowering women in the maritime community

This year’s theme provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to highlight the important – yet under-utilized – contribution of women within the maritime sector.

It also allows stakeholders the opportunity to work towards achieving the SDGs, particularly SDG 5, to foster 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.

Empowering women fuels thriving economies across the world, spurs growth and development and benefits everyone working in the global maritime community in the drive towards safe, secure, clean and sustainable shipping.

 Parallel Event 2019 – Colombia

The International Maritime Organization confer the privilege to a country to host the Parallel Event to World Maritime Day. Therefore, on September 15-17 2019 – Cartagena, Colombia will host the Parallel Event, which aims to provide an opportunity for the IMO Member States and the different representatives of the sector to promote work on maritime safety, marine environment protection and facilitation of international maritime transport, as indisputable elements for the proper development of maritime trade.

“IMO has a strong commitment to helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and continues to support the participation of women in both shore-based and seagoing posts, in line with the goals outlined under SDG 5: 'Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls',” -- IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Back in 1988, few maritime institutes opened their doors to female students. IMO was in the vanguard of United Nations’ specialized agencies that forged a global program known as the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector. Carried out over several phases, it put in place as institutional framework to incorporate a gender dimension into IMO’s policies and procedures, with resolutions adopted to ensure access to maritime training and employment opportunities for women in the maritime sector.

Female graduates of IMO’s global training institutes, the World Maritime University (WMU) and the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) are today working as maritime administrators and decision makers. They have a positive impact as role models in encouraging new female recruits. IMO also supports the empowerment of women through gender-specific fellowships by facilitating access to high-level technical training for women in the maritime sector in developing countries.

Key Events

Here are the series of activities and events that have been and will be held in 2019 related to the theme “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.

  • 8 March – International Women’s Day celebration event at IMO Headquarters
  • March – launch of women in maritime profiled to showcase women who have benefited from the Women in Maritime program
  • 4-5 April – 3rd International conference on Empowering Women in the Maritime Community at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden.
  • 5 April – Meeting of all seven IMO regional Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs), on sidelines of WMU Conference.
  • 10 April – “Women, ports and facilitation” special event held at IMO Headquarters during the Facilitation Committee meeting
  • 1 May – special event held at IMO Headquarters on International Labor Day, exploring issues around female representation in a traditionally male-dominated industry
  • 7 June – IMO special event at Nor-Shipping exhibition to highlight challenges and the solutions around encouraging women to take up seafaring roles
  • 25 June – On the International Day of the Seafarer, IMO, industry and other stakeholders joined the campaign to get on board with this year’s theme of gender equality and declare their support with the “#IAmOnBoard” hashtag
  • 25 June – IMO film, Turning the Tide, showing how IMO’s Women in Maritime program is helping to support gender diversity in the maritime sector, premiered during the 69th session of IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee (TC 69)
  • 10 September – “Empowering women in the maritime community” them highlighted by IMO at the WISTA International/Inmarsat panel on “Digitalization and Diversity”, during London International Shipping Week.
  • 10 September – World Maritime Week Malaysia holds session on “Encouraging Gender Diversity in Maritime Industry”
  • 15-17 September – World Maritime Day Parallel Event 2019 in Cartagena, Colombia
  • 18-20 September – Regional conference for the Network of Women of the Maritime Authorities of Latin America – Red de Mujeres de Autoridades Maritimas de Latinoamerica (MAMLa)
  • 26 September – Celebration of World Maritime Day at IMO Headquarters
  • Late 2019 – initiating IMO/WISTA study to collect and analyze data on the number of women employed in the maritime sector


Member Governments and international organizations are encouraged to organize events throughout the year to highlight the World Maritime Day theme.