The International Maritime Organisation has agreed that 18 May each year will be recognised as International Day for Women in Maritime.

The date was set at the ongoing IMO Assembly meeting and is intended to raise the profile of women working in the maritime industry.

It comes as part of the IMO's commitment to gender equality made under the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

IMO secretary general Kitack Lim said: "I am pleased that the member states have joined the call to achieve a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding."

Women represent only 1.2% of the global seafarer workforce, according to the most recent Bimco and International Chamber of Shipping 2021 Seafarer Workforce report.

However, although women representation is small, it has been improving. The Bimco ICS figures represent a 45.8% increase on recruitment numbers since the previous 2015 report.

The IMO has been working to promote gender equality in shipping employment. In 2019 the IMO adopted a resolution to achieve a barrier-free environment for women in the maritime sector, and is running a Women in Maritime programme.

Under the programme, its Training -Visibility-Recognition scheme has adopted a strategic approach to enhance the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders.

The IMO also supports the maritime SheEO Leadership programme to equip women with leadership skills and confidence to work in decision making positions.