Shipping Deputy Minister Marina Hadjimanolis is making an official visit to London to participate in the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) celebrations for the International Day for Women in Maritime, according to an announcement released on Tuesday.

During this session on May 17, 2024, the IMO will present the inaugural IMO Gender Equality Award.

This award will honour Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, a Cypriot nominee, who is set to receive the first IMO Gender Equality Award for her impactful work with the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International).

Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, the former president of WISTA International, has been selected as the recipient of the first-ever IMO Gender Equality Award.

This accolade has been established to recognise those individuals, irrespective of their gender, who, either in their personal capacity or as representatives of their respective institutions, have made significant contributions to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women in the maritime sector.

The presentation of the award will take place during the organisation’s celebrations of the International Day for Women in Maritime.

Nominations for the award are carefully considered by an assessment panel, comprised of representatives from WISTA International, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), two IMO Member States who are members of the IMO Gender Network, and the chair of the legal committee.

Eligibility for nominations extends to member states and observer organisations, specialised agencies, programmes and funds of the United Nations system; intergovernmental organisations with which IMO has established cooperative agreements or arrangements; and non-governmental international organisations in consultative status with IMO.

Beyond her role in WISTA, Theodosiou is the joint CEO of Tototheo Maritime, a global service provider specialising in innovative, efficient, and functional solutions in the fields of digitalisation, maritime satellite communications, automation, and navigation systems.

She served as president of WISTA International from 2017 to 2022, an organisation comprised of 59 National WISTA Associations.

Additionally, she holds prestigious positions such as president of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus and vice president of the Natural Gas Infrastructure Company (Cyprus).

She also sits on the boards of various organisations, including the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, and is a member of the General Committee of the Association of SA and Limited Companies in Greece, where she heads its shipping sector committee.

Panayiotou Theodosiou has been a key figure in advancing gender equality within the maritime sector. Her leadership at WISTA International not only elevated the organisation’s mission but also spotlighted the myriad challenges women face in the maritime industry.

Her efforts have enhanced awareness among industry stakeholders and international policymakers, thereby amplifying the voices of women and underscoring their vital contributions to the sector.

Furthermore, Panayiotou Theodosiou played a crucial role in achieving consultative status for WISTA International at the IMO. This milestone led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between both organisations, catalysing several successful initiatives.

These initiatives include the Women in Maritime project, which examines the representation and distribution of women in the sector, and the Maritime Speakers Bureau, designed to ensure that maritime conferences and events offer inclusive panels that reflect diverse perspectives.

During her stay, Hadjimanolis will also address the inaugural “Cyprus Forum. London” conference.

Organised with the aim of promoting Cyprus as a significant maritime center and showcasing the Cyprus flag as a symbol of quality and credibility, this conference marks a strategic effort to enhance Cyprus’ profile in the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the Deputy Minister’s visit includes engagements with London-based shipping companies.

These meetings are part of ongoing efforts to promote the Cypriot shipping industry, with the objective of attracting new shipping companies to the island and encouraging more vessel registrations under the Cyprus flag.