New gender equality toolkit for the ocean sector

19 April 2024
Press release
woman diver looking through coral

The Commonwealth today launched a new toolkit to promote gender-responsive practices in ocean-related occupations.

Turning the Tides of Inclusion: A Toolkit for Gender Equality in Ocean Sectors is a guide for policymakers, organisations, and individuals to help promote inclusion and unlock the full potential of sustainable blue economies.

Turning the Tides of Inclusion: A Toolkit for Gender Equality in Ocean Sectors was launched during the inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting in Cyprus. It examines the key ocean-related industries where significant gender disparities exist, including marine conservation and restoration, ocean science, fisheries, maritime transportation, and tourism.

Importantly, the toolkit offers recommendations on how Commonwealth governments can mainstream gender through ocean policies, advocacy and science.

The toolkit was created by the Commonwealth Blue Charter Programme and the Gender section of the Secretariat.

Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC said:

“The Commonwealth has been at the forefront of gender equality issues for over four decades. We have proven that with determination, collaboration and a focus on inclusivity, we can change the current narrative and ensure a future where all individuals, regardless of gender, have equal opportunity to contribute to and benefit from sustainable ocean opportunities.”

Lead author Nafesha Richardson, Ocean Gender Outreach Assistant at the Commonwealth said:

“By navigating the existing inequalities, we can better understand what actions are needed to ensure ocean-related work becomes more inclusive for women, gender minorities and marginalised communities. This is crucial if we are to build robust and sustainable blue economies.”

Gender disparities are exemplified by lack of access to resources and decision-making roles, the inability to participate at the highest-level of marine activities, unfair remuneration and limited opportunities for recognition.

The toolkit explains how this is experienced by industry workers, ranging from an ignorance of prevailing stereotypes, which reinforce ocean roles as more suited to men - to safe access to facilities at sea for women and gender minorities and sexual harassment in the workplace.

It offers recommendations including mandatory gender trainings to foster awareness and commitment to gender equality principles, enhanced leadership representation of underrepresented women in influential climate decision-making forums, promoting STEM education for women and girls to cultivate future leaders in ocean sectors and developing fairer job descriptions and promotion requirements considering women’s caregiving responsibilities.

In 2020, Commonwealth research funded by the Government of Canada called for better opportunities in ocean science for women and those who identify as non-binary. Its recommendations mirror those of the toolkit and include ensuring gender equity in decision-making, creating leadership and mentorship opportunities, building capacity, and collecting gender-disaggregated data in the sector.

Turning the Tides of Inclusion: A Toolkit for Gender Equality in Ocean Sectors


Media contact

  • Victoria Holdsworth  Communications and Media Liaison Lead, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Email