Go to content
Photos: iStock and Visit Greenland, Mads Pihl

Organisations – women in the maritime unite

Women’s organisations can play a vital role in promoting women in society through networking and empowerment. In this section we will highlight examples of initiatives supporting gender equality in the blue economy.
Formed in 1974, the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International) is a global organisation connecting female executives and decision makers around the world. WISTA International serves as a hub for its network of more than 3,800 female professionals from all sectors of the maritime industry. WISTA promotes diversity in the maritime, trading and logistics sectors, empowering women to lead through their unique perspective and skills, based on the conviction that gender diversity is key to providing a sustainable future for the shipping industry internationally. The organisation works towards minimising the existing gender leadership gap in the maritime, trading and logistics sectors, building a community among its members, facilitating the exchange of contacts, information and experiences, promoting the creation of business relationships among its members, facilitating the professional development of its members, and liaising with other related institutions and organisations worldwide (WISTA, 2023).
Based on experiences from the MeToo movement and shipping industries #anchoraweigh, the Swedish shipping industry signed a joint letter of intent for a world-class working environment and zero tolerance of harassment and victimisation in 2022. The Fair Winds collaboration started in 2018, through which organisations work, among other things, to raise awareness and provide information about equal treatment. In the first stage, four different sub-projects have been prioritised to drive the work forward; an industry-wide letter of intent, open workshops and seminars, inclusion of training on victimisation and harassment within basic safety training and gathering of best practices for preventive work.

One voice less in fisheries and aquaculture

In early 2023, it was announced that the International Organization for Women in the Seafood Industry (WSI) was ending its activities due to lack of resources. The France-based non-profit association was established by seafood professionals and gender specialists in 2016 and headed by Marie Christine Monfort.
There is growing recognition of the significance of women’s participation in the global seafood industry, yet it is often undervalued by private stakeholders and overlooked by public policies. Globally, one in every two seafood workers is a woman. However, they are over-represented in the lowest-paid, lowest-valued positions, with very few women in leadership positions. Women are essential contributors to this important food supply industry, but they remain invisible. Stories of women in the seafood industry, both good and bad, are rarely told. There is a need to increase awareness about women’s role in this industry and to recognise the value they bring. Among the organisation’s various activities during its lifetime, WSI published global annual WATCH reports gathering news worldwide on the status, positions and activities of women along the fisheries and aquaculture value chain. However, persistent lack of awareness and understanding of the complexity of the issue, combined with a lack of resources, led to the organisation’s decision to end its activities.

Seafood and Gender Equality (SAGE), an organisation founded in 2020, will partly fill the void left behind. WSI has worked closely with SAGE to develop and launched the Gender Equality Dialogues (GED), a virtual one-year programme started in mid-2023 that offers seafood industry leaders an opportunity to learn about the key barriers to gender equality and help them make measurable and actionable commitments. SAGE and its founder Julie Kuchepatov publish the Conch Podcast www.seafoodandgenderequality.org/theconchsz1

The Bloom is a new international networking community for women and genderqueer people in the seafood sector. It holds virtual meetings every month and maintains an active WhatsApp chat community with the aim of supporting and empowering one another. Although the primary audience consists of women and genderqueer people in North America, the community has members from Europe and other regions. www.seafoodandgenderequality.org/the-bloom

Sisters in the Arctic Blue. The network was funded by the Nordic Arctic cooperation programme 2019-2022 with the aim of advancing a gender perspective in Arctic Marine and Coastal Social Science Research (SAB). The core group consisted of scholars active in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, but the network has expanded to encompass more scholars active within the field of gender and the blue sector. The core network members compiled a publication in 2022 titled: “Gender in Nordic Blue Economies – Initial networking results & future academic research”. The awareness and shortage of an organised support and collaboration network for early career researchers interested in and working on gender issues within blue economy sectors brought together a group of researchers into Nordic fisheries, heritage and rural areas. The network continues to pursue its activities.

Hun Fisker is a Norway-based interest organisation of and for female professional fishers. It aims to promote women's interests and rights at sea, give women visible role models in the profession and contribute to increasing women's experience and skills.

Konur í sjávarútvegi (The Association of Women in the Marine Industry in Iceland) was established in 2013 with the goal of making women more visible in the maritime industry and encouraging more women to enter the field. Its activities include study trips to companies in the fisheries sector and mapping of the presence of women in the industry. Its goal is to make women more visible both within the industry as well as outside of it and ultimately to encourage more women to choose the marine industry as their line of work. It also sets out to strengthen relationships while learning and broadening horizons. www.kis.is/
Norges fiskarlags kvinnenettverk (Women’s Network of the Norwegian Fishers’ Association) was established in 2022 during the NorFish convention in Trondelag. The Norwegian Fishers’ Association is the largest stakeholder organisation for fishers in Norway and this network of women is part of a larger effort to give women both space and opportunities within the organisation. The aim is for the network to be a platform for making contacts, sharing ideas, opinions, tips and tricks, as well as a starting point for discussing the profession, politics, challenges and opportunities in the industry. Fiskarlaget strives to be an organisation with greater diversity and more perspectives. It recognises that ideas, solutions and perspectives from female fishers are needed in order for the organisation to promote the best interests of fishers most effectively.

Hanna Bakke-Jensen (left) and Marit Hiim Haugseth. Photo: Norges fiskarlag