So the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has declared the 18th of May as “International Day for Women in Maritime 2022”. Well and good. Women deserve all the support they can get in a male-dominated shipping world. The question, however, arises: where is the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the celebration of this event?

Lest some forget, the ILO is the UN agency that deals with labour standards and promoting decent work for all women and men. Why has it been left out in what is supposed to be a special day for maritime women? Why is the IMO taking the lead in blowing the trumpet for them?

Perhaps the IMO bureaucrats in London cannot be faulted for having such zeal in promoting gender equality. But there are nitty-gritty questions they and the shipping industry as a whole would do well to ponder:

  Why has the post of IMO secretary general always been held by men?

  How many of the IMO’s main committees and sub-committees are headed by a woman?

  Of the IMO’s 175 member states, how many have official delegations to the body that are headed by women?

  How many national maritime administrations are currently headed by women?

  What has the IMO done to ease the training burden on seafarers, a growing number of whom are women?

Amid the hoopla, anyone who dares raise such questions would be regarded as a spoilsport. This is to be expected. The IMO is a master of slogans and buzzwords, and the shipping industry, along with the maritime press, has the bad habit of docilely mouthing them.

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