Women's International Shipping & Trading Association

IMO and WISTA International Speakers Bureau Launch

October 27, 2022

24 October 2022

IMO and WISTA International launch speakers bureau to amplify diversity of voices in maritime

Women in maritime are encouraged to inspire, educate and engage audiences by registering as speakers on the new Maritime Speakers Bureau platform, launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International).

IMO and WISTA International are passionate about ensuring that sector conferences and events have a diversity of thought and inclusive panels are the top way to achieve this. The two organizations have created a new platform, a speaker bank for the women in maritime, intending to end the tradition of all-male speaking panels, sometimes referred to as ‘manels’.

The IMO and WISTA International aim to promote women’s voices in the shipping industry and increase the number of women speakers. This will show more diverse role models and eliminate the excuse that “I cannot find a female speaker”; and simplify the process of finding speakers. It is free to register and use by speakers and organizers.

The Maritime Speakers Bureau website is seeking positive commitment by asking people to sign one or more of its pledges: for speakers; organizers; and sponsors. By signing, they are committing to highlighting where there is a lack of diversity at events and doing what they can to improve things to ensure that maritime events have diversity and inclusion.


Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA International, said:

Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA International, states: “WISTA is an international organisation whose mission is to attract and support women, at the management level, in the maritime, trading and logistics sectors. It is our conviction that diversity is one of the key elements for a sustainable future for our industries. Creating this platform in collaboration with the IMO is a fantastic opportunity to help the wider maritime sector attract more diverse talent in an international industry. Women in our industry will be able to show their interest in participating in panels, becoming more visible and inspiring others. At the same time, event organisers will have the tools to make their panels more inclusive, diverse and interesting.”


Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of The International Maritime Organization (IMO) said:

“For speakers, this is your opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences in your field of expertise and contribute to helping the audience benefit from diverse thoughts.

For conference organizers, it is an opportunity to have inclusive, diverse, richer panels from this free-to-use directory of industry speakers. At the same time, the audience can benefit from a range of perspectives that come from having a conference with diversity.”

The launch of the Maritime Speakers Bureau is another joint project under the IMO-WISTA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on promoting greater diversity and inclusion through enhanced cooperation activities in the maritime sector. The MoU, signed in 2020, aims to set a framework for both IMO and WISTA to promote gender diversity and inclusion as vital factors in providing a sustainable future for the shipping industry worldwide.

Earlier this year, IMO and WISTA provided the results of the first, 2021, IMO-WISTA Women in Maritime survey. (Read more here: https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/pages/WIM-Survey-2021-report.aspx .


How the Maritime speakers Bureau works

Speakers, once registered, can be contacted by the conference and event organizers with their requests via the Speakers Bureau website email system. Speakers are free to accept or decline the invitation to speak. If they decline  , they can recommend someone else if they can instead. Conference organizers can search the directory by sectors, subjects and countries.

Link to the IMO WISTA Maritime Speakers Bureau: https://tinyurl.com/2pvsab8x


Notes to Editors

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Caption: Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President WISTA International


About WISTA International

The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International)  – wistainternational.com – was formed in 1974 as a global organization connecting female executives and decision-makers around the world.

WISTA International incorporates 56 countries National WISTA Association (NWA), representing more than 3,800 female professionals from all maritime industry sectors. NWAs provide in-country and regional networking, business and skill-building opportunities, corporate visibility, and also facilitate relationships within the industry.


WISTA works toward:

  • Minimizing 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
  • Providing liaison with other related institutions and organizations worldwide


Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of IMO


About IMO

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) – www.imo.org – is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. IMO’s work supports the UN SDGs.?

As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place. IMO gathers 175 Member States and 50 Conventions and Protocols.

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