IORA's objectives are enshrined in the IORA Charter.
The priority areas are:
- Maritime safety and security;
- Trade and investment facilitation;
- Fisheries management;
- Disaster risk management;
- Academic, science and technology cooperation; and
- Tourism and cultural exchange.
The Blue Economy and Women's economic empowerment are two further cross-cutting priority areas.
Women's economic empowerment is an effective driver of growth in the Indian Ocean region. In October 2015, IORA Ministers endorsed a Declaration on Gender Equality and Women's Economic Empowerment. Australia has championed this cross-cutting priority and plays a leadership role in IORA's Working Group on Women's Economic Empowerment. Australia has partnered with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to provide a series of workshops supporting women in business in the region. We have also supported UN Women to develop a baseline data report on female participation in the labour force in Indian Ocean Rim countries.
In August 2018, Mauritius and Australia co-chaired the 'Women's Economic Empowerment - A Pre-requisite for Sustainable Development' ministerial conference in Port Louis at which the Working Group on Women's Economic Empowerment was launched. Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls, the Hon Sharman Stone, along with other attendees from IORA member states issued the Balaclava Declaration on 'Women's Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality as a Pre-Requisite for Sustainable Development'.