for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for 
Sustainable Development

about the programme

A Commitment to Improve Gender Equality in Ocean Research and Science Dependant Governance Systems

With support from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the purpose of this research programme is to advance an alternative, inclusive model for the sustainable governance of ocean spaces and maritime activities that duly takes into account the need to ensure effective gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels in order to ensure the sustainable management of the global ocean. The programme is endorsed as an Ocean Decade Action by IOC-UNESCO. For more information - download the Programme Brochure here.

programme characteristics

Promoting leadership opportunities

The Programme aims to investigate tools and pathways to ensure that gender equality is a central pillar for partner institutions as well as all Decade Initiatives.

milestones to be achieved

- Collect baseline data
- Set general and specific objectives based on research and consultation
- Promote openness, transparency and responsibility
- Ensure gender norms inform all decision-making and management actions
- Monitor performance on the attainment of specific equality targets
- 2025 - Report, Reassess and React 

identifying new pathways

Research findings will identify key barriers and good practice contributing to a proposed Strategy and Action Plan to help deliver equal opportunities for full participation and leadership by women at all levels of ocean science under the Ocean Decade. The Programme will enhance ongoing collaborations with partners including intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, research institutes, universities, and individuals to deliver substantive research outputs contributing to transformative actions.

objectives & outputs

2 Research Strands

Strand 1

Role of gender equality and empowerment of women in ocean science bodies.

Strand 2

Gender equality in the regulatory and ocean science governance systems that coordinate, manage and mediate ocean science.


  • Lack of equal opportunities for women to participate and contribute in ocean science and ocean science governance systems
  • Absence of appropriate standards advancing gender equality
  • Inadequacy of affirmative action and gender equality initiatives
  • Lack of adequate baseline data


  • Empowerment and participation by women scientists supports diversity and serves as a central factor to enhance science-based governance
  • Increased participation by women scientists contributes to the sum of total human innovation needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Strategy and Action Plan for Gender Empowerment in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable development

The Team

Meet the Research Team

Dr. Mariamalia Rodriguez-Chaves

Postdoctoral Fellow

"The acknowledgement of the critical role of women in different professional areas has been advancing, however there are still gaps and challenges that must be addressed, and finding those key issues through this project could identify tangible actions and opportunities to empower women in ocean science."

Area of Research

Understanding the role of gender in international bodies and NGOs involved in the practice and delivery of marine science.

Ellen Johannesen

PhD Candidate

"I’m interested in exploring how we can remove barriers, and identify strategies that will help encourage and promote women into leadership positions."

Area of Research

Understanding the role of gender in the practice of international marine science - The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) as a case study.

Renis Auma Ojwala


"It is never too late to change the negative social norms that hinder women participation in Ocean Science"

Area of Research

Recruitment, retention and advancement of women in ocean scientific research and governance in Western Indian Ocean Region.

Director, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Programme Co-Principal Investigator (Nippon Foundation Post)

Sustainable Fisheries Management,
Ocean Biodiversity and Marine
Spatial Planning

External Expert on Gender

Associate Professor, Programme Principal Investigator, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Programme and Operations Manager, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Head of Research, WMU-Sasakawa
Global Ocean Institute

Senior Administrative Assistant, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute


March 8, 2024

February 13, 2023

February 7, 2023

October 15, 2022

March 25, 2024

July 6, 2021

January 12, 2021

September 24, 2020



  • Johannesen, E., Auma Ojwala, R., Chavez-Rodriguez, M., Neat, F., Kitada, M., Buckingham, S., Schofield, C., Long, R., Jarnsäter, J. & Zhen, S. (2022). The sea change needed for gender equality in ocean-going research. Special Issues of Marine Technology Society Journal, 3, 18-24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.56.3.6
  • Ojwala, R.A., Kitada, M. Neat, F., Buckingham, S. (2022) 'Effectiveness of gender policies in achieving gender equality in ocean science programmes in public universities in Kenya', Marine Policy, 144. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105237
  • Sun, Z.; Kitada, M.; Buckingham, S.; Chavez-Rodriguez, M.; Jarnsäter, J.; Johannesen, E.; Long, R.; Neat, F.; Ojwala, R. A. and Schofield, C. (2022) Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Marine Technology Society Journal, 3, 108-109. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.56.3.31
  • E Johannesen, F Barz, D J Dankel, S B M Kraak (2023) Gender and early career status: variables of participation at an international marine science conference, ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsad028. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsad028
  • Ojwala, R. A. (2023). Status of gender equality in ocean research, conservation and management institutions and organisations in Kenya, African Journal of Marine Science, 45:2, 105-115, https://doi.org/10.2989/1814232X.2023.2213724.
  • Sun, Z., Johannesen, E., Ojwala, R. A., Rodríguez-Chaves, M., Kitada, M., Buckingham, S., ... & Schofield, C. (2023). Big Steps Forward—Implementation of the Empowering Women for the Ocean Decade Programme. Marine Technology Society Journal, 57(2), 9-12. https://doi.org/10.2989/1814232X.2023.2213724
  • Kitada, M., Johannesen, E., Ojwala, R. A., Buckingham, S., Sun, Z., Rodríguez-Chaves, M., ... & Schofield, C. (2023). Barriers to the Collection of Gender-Disaggregated Data in Ocean Science. Human Factors in Management and Leadership, Vol. 92, 2023, 71–80. https://doi.org/10.54941/ahfe1003736.
  • Ojwala, R. A., Buckingham, S., Neat, F., & Kitada, M. (2024). Understanding women’s roles, experiences and barriers to participation in ocean science education in Kenya: recommendations for better gender equality policy. Marine Policy, 161 (106000), pp 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2023.106000
  • Ojwala, R. A. (2024). Unravelling gender and ethnic bias in higher education: students’ experiences in access to ocean science education and career opportunities in Kenya. Higher Education, 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-024-01198-x

Academic Reports

  • Zhen Sun, Ronán Long, Mariamalia Rodriguez-Chaves, Momoko Kitada, Francis Neat, Clive Schofield, Susan Buckingham, Jill Jarnsäter, Elnaz Barjandi, Renis Auma Ojwala and Ellen Johannesen (Ed.), Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Malmö: World Maritime University, 2021
  • J. Van Stavel; …E. Johanesen; R. Ojwala, et. al. "Towards an increase in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in international ocean observing practices and initiatives," OCEANS 2021: San Diego – Porto, 2021, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.23919/OCEANS44145.2021.9706081.
  • Sun, Z., Ojwala, R. A, Johannesen, E., Rodriguez, M. C., Long, R., Kitada, M., Buckingham, S., Schofield, C. & Neat, F. (Eds.). Scaling up actions to empower women for the ocean decade -Joint 2022 United Nations Conference side events report, Malmö: World Maritime University, 2023, pp 1-56.

Books & Book Chapters

  • Long R, Z. Sun, M. Rodriguez-Chaves, ‘Gender Leadership for the UN Decade of Ocean Science: The Pioneering Role of the International Seabed Authority’ in Alfonso Ascencio-Herrera and Nordquist M (eds), The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Part XI Regime and the International Seabed Authority: A Twenty-Five Year Journey (Leiden/Boston: Brill/Nijhoff, 2022). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004507388_010


March 10, 2022

February 10, 2022

February 9, 2022

February 9, 2022

Contact Information

Find us here: Fiskehamnsgatan 1

Email:  goisecretariat@wmu.se

Phone: +46 40 356 351