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UNA Women's Advisory Council: AGM with speaker Helen Buni from the IMO

WAC-UNA-UK’s November AGM was on 6.11.19, at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), London. 

In a short business meeting the results of a monkey survey were discussed, looking at the best way to promote 5 special UN 2020 anniversaries. Then the speaker Helen Buni talked about her work for the IMO. She referred especially to this year’s IMO theme for the 2019 World Maritime Day - “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”. She is a Principal Programme Assistant for Resource Mobilization and Partnerships in the Office of the Director of the Technical Cooperation Division of the IMO. She is involved in the IMO’s gender programme with conferences, plans for the empowerment of women in many countries and obtaining funds for training women so they can be employed in the shipping industry. She encourages regional and local groups to support women in these ventures.

The IMO is multinational, so there is much dialogue regarding regulation and fairness.  Advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global economic growth, yet 60% of the world’s illiterate were women. Some countries did not recognise the value of using the sea for trade. So this year the aim was to spotlight the women so they had more visibility in ports, fisheries, search and rescue and facilitation etc., also to emphasise “sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet” in the sustainable development goals including SDG 5 and 14.

WISTA, the Women’s International Shipping & Trade Association has 47 national chapters around the world and works with the IMO. Their experts cover many issues, including the major challenge for women to have access to leadership roles, justice and education. Nigeria and Ghana for example were two of 7 regions supported by the IMO, working to develop gender equality. The national groups do beach clean-ups, health awareness session and provide technical assistance.

The World Maritime University WMU, was founded in 1983 by the IMO.  Scholarships are available, also port management courses, etc. In 2019 there were 1000 female graduates.
The International Maritime Law Institute has a quota to reserve 50% of places for women, so 60% of graduates are women.

Helen generously provided leaflets, badges, flash sticks and refreshments – and welcomed further interaction between the IMO and WAC-UNA.