On 7 June 2022, the International Gender Champions (IGC) network launched a new Impact Group on Research and Oceans for Women (IGROW) with the aim to provide a platform to facilitate synergies and collective actions to increase participation of women in ocean affairs.
Covering around 70% of the earth’s surface, oceans form the largest habitat on earth hosting millions of life forms; regulate the global climate and weather patterns, and form a critical source of food and livelihood. It is estimated that ocean-based industries produce contribute around €1.3 trillion to global gross value added. SDG 14 of the 2030 Agenda calls for conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. With increasing anthropogenic pressures and dependency on oceans and its resources, it is essential that oceans are well studied and understood through robust science and governed and managed sustainably in accordance with international and national laws, considering that almost half of Earth’s oceans fall outside of national jurisdictions.
Since our current scientific knowledge and understanding of oceans is still very limited compared to other ecosystems, it is essential that marine scientific research and ocean governance are promoted and supported to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability of ocean-based industries. The importance of the rule of law is also at the core of the ability of the international community to “ensure a legal order for the seas and oceans which will facilitate communication, and will promote the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans, the equitable and efficient utilization of their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the study, protection and preservation of the marine environment” .
However, women are still under-represented in many levels of ocean affairs including in highly technical and emerging fields of ocean science and engineering. This reflects the historical gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Unless systematic change is introduced to reduce the gender gap, traditional ocean-based sectors such as fisheries, maritime transport as well as emerging and future ocean-based sectors such as offshore renewables and marine minerals will continue to suffer from lack of gender parity, as was the case in the past. It is therefore, urgent and necessary that collective efforts be engaged to ensure that women are provided with the opportunity to fully participate in all aspect of ocean related issues including through increased efforts to support women empowerment and leadership in all fields of ocean governance and ocean science.
This Impact Group will provide the necessary platform to facilitate collective actions and synergies towards the following strategic objectives:
1) Ensuring strategic visibility of gender issues in the field of ocean affairs (advocacy and outreach)
2) Promoting and facilitating targeted capacity-building initiatives and programmes to support increased women participation in ocean affairs (organizational as well as programmatic)
3) Advancing women empowerment and leadership in marine scientific research and international law (including through the Women in Deep-Sea Research project implemented jointly by the International Seabed Authority and the UN Office of the High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS together with governments, academia and private entities)
Co-chairs: IGROW is co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and H.E. Mr. Viliami Va'inga Tōnē, Permanent Representative of Tonga to the United Nations (UN).
The group has received special support from IGC Alumna, the Honorable Ms. Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Tourism of the Kingdom of Tonga and Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, USG, UN Legal Counsel, and will involve senior government representatives and heads of international organizations as well as leaders in civil society and the private sector with associated interest.