Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has called on the international maritime community to commit to creating opportunities for women and a conducive environment for them to thrive in the sector.
"Women constitute the majority of the global population. However, those demographics do not find the same expression in our workplaces in terms of gender equity and parity," the Minister said.
He was addressing the World Maritime Day Parallel Event that is currently underway in in Cartagena, Colombia.
"Empowering women and a girl child is an imperative we must all embrace and support. Our educational and skills interventions must be deliberately biased towards women," Mbalula said.
He said the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is firmly committed to tackling gender equity.
This has been demonstrated by the implementation of various programs including the adoption of the IMO theme for 2019: Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.
"The establishment of Women in Maritime Associations (WIMA) and other regional associations, which are professional networks, is equally a demonstration of this commitment. We are firmly behind the good intentions of the IMO Secretary-General, Kitak Lim, to develop the long-term strategy to address gender parity," the Minister said.
He said South Africa will be re-launching the South African Chapter of Women in Maritime Sector, Eastern and Southern African Association (WOMESA) before end of 2019.
"Notwithstanding the structures, initiatives and programs in place, there is a continuous demand of technical assistance and capacity building from IMO Member States. As a collective responsibility in ensuring that there is no country that is left behind," Mbalula said.
Promoting global partnership
The Minister encouraged Member States of the IMO to provide funding and mobilise financial resources for the noble cause of the Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme (ITCP) programme.
"With the increasing demand of technical assistance and capacity building, the current funding model of the ITCP is coming under increasing pressure, and its sustainability into the future is not assured.
"Sustainable global partnerships require deeper levels of collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors, the NGO sector and academia. These partnerships must translate to both in-kind and financial commitments to ensure long-term sustainability of the ITCP.
"... We must commend various governments and private sector companies who have already committed themselves to provide financial and in-kind support," he said.
The ITCP was designed to assist developing countries to implement international maritime rules and standards in a harmonized manner in accordance with IMO's global mandate "to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation".
Many developing countries cannot yet give full and complete effect to IMO's instruments. For this reason and, as mandated by the Convention that created IMO, the Organization established an ITCP, with the sole purpose of assisting countries in building up their human and institutional capacities for uniform and effective compliance with the Organization's regulatory framework. South Africa is a beneficiary of the number of the ITCP programs.
"We are also one of ten Lead Pilot Countries under Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnership project. We are pleased to be associated with this partnership and being a beneficiary to this project seeking to address environmental pollution from international shipping.
"We believe that the IMO has earned its stripes in delivering ITCP projects for Member States. Therefore, we encourage the IMO to continue soliciting partnerships with various governments and private sector partners, who are able and willing to provide financial and in-kind support in ensuring that work of the IMO continues," the Minister said.
He said governments should be encouraged to send their students to IMO institutions of learning, the World Maritime University and the International Maritime Law Institute.
"These institutions not only assist governments to train their officials to be able to provide necessary support on the implementation of the IMO instruments, but also provide powerful platforms for collaboration and giving impetus to a global vision," the Minister said.