WOMEN & The Sea

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” Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”.

– Hillary Clinton

         In these days world women have shown their capability in varied sectors with success, they carried all kinds of responsibilities as well as maritime industry. As per the history, we’ve always seen shipping is a male dominated industry. As a profession maritime is considered to be one of the most dangerous job in the world, women were usually not thought-about “fit for ” or offered job in this industry. Female seafarers are now contributing to the maritime workforce similarly as bring success and wellness to the company. But still female sailors population remains low. Many Families and Society don’t encourage girls to decide on seafaring as their career, most of the women concern to enter in such a career as they believe that they may got to manage several challenges. However, UN agency has done a very important role towards strengthening women role within the shipping industry.

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Statistics on Women seafarers :

        The female count within the maritime industry is too limited. Nowadays, the difficulty of equal opportunity within the maritime field represents a challenges for getting human progress, respect and recognition of human rights.

    Accordingly, Seafarers Rights International Centre approximates 1.5 million seafarers daily serve on worldwide fleet of over 100,000 ships that transport over 90th of world trade, whereas International Labour Organisation (ILO) considers that over 1.2 million seafarers operate ships. In this figures, women seafarers represent a very small percentage. Current statistics of International Transport staff Federation shows that female make up only an approximate 2% of the world’s maritime work force. Still, it’s rare to find female sailors at sea.

There are some unusal challenges faced by female seafarers. Some of this are highlighted below.

1. Acceptance : Being accepted in a group which is majorly dominated by men, is the first and foremost challenge that female sailors always face. Feeling ignored being neglected is common on board. Although, with time as you continue working together as a team, you earn respect of fellow crew members and also the difficulties will get diluted. Being strong and showing active participation is  necessary

2. Prejudice and Stereotypes : Every female sailor goes to encounter the question, why they chose to enter merchant Navy?. It could be very discouraging and disturbing. Most of the Seamen have a typical belief that girls haven’t any business on-board. Seamen have alternative ways to convey their bitterness toward female seafarers. They’ll advise them to quit the career and look for jobs onshore. Some force the female sailors to assume that she’s too week and incompetent to try and do the men’s work. Willpower is an important to beat such prejudice.

3. Lack of basics : The masculine domination is also reflected in the ships culture. Most of the ships have neither the uniforms nor the shoes to suit female sailors. Everybody on board takes it for granted that no female can ever work with them. Talking frankly with senior officers and requesting them to look into this matter will solve this issue.

The basic design structure of the ship is constructed with an assumption that the atmosphere of the ship is male territory. But now the shipping building firms are over coming these assumption and coming up with ships that are higher equipped for female employees.

4. Assumption & Narrow mindedness : Good relationships with few male colleagues will give rise to jealousy and also lead to a kind of favouritism. This could disrupt the unity. It’s better to mingle with all equally than to give space and importance to anyone specially.

5. Coming out of the comfort zone : During the initial days of training there is also several arduous tasks. These can include lifting heavy weight, working under the scorching sun, extreme climate etc. The men seafarers mates could be a lot of versatile whereas doing tasks single handedly. Women are usually looked at with askance questioning their ability. Coming out of your comfort zone plays an important role here, even with persistent and diligent efforts your confidence will begin to expand.

Despite these There are some shipping companies have tried to promote women in Maritime Industry :

– In 1 April 2017, Japanese NYK declared that a deck officer named Tomoko Konishi become the first Female in the company’s 132 – year history to be promoted to the rank of captain.

In late August, Celebrity Cruises announced partnership with the Regional Maritime University in Ghana, marking the first time in cruise industry history, in order female bridge officers to be openly recruited from a West African country, through a new Celebrity-RMU Cadet Program.

– In early March 2018, Nicole Langosch was appointed as AIDA’s 1st female captain, in the vessel AIDAsol. Currently, AIDA Cruises employs 14 female maritime officers aboard its fleet.

– On June 7, WISTA signed a MoU with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, in London, to promote women’s maritime education.

– In October, in Alexandria, Egypt, 30 females from nine Arab countries officially launched The Arab Association for women in the Maritime Sector (AWIMA), that joined the International Maritime Organization family of regional WIMAs, giving visibility and recognition to the role female play as key resources for the maritime sector.

– Saudi Arabia has disclosed plans to achieve the ambitious Vision 2030, that envisages increasing the participation of female in the work force from the current 22% to 30%.

– In late january, the India-based Anglo-Eastern Maritime training Centre, ISWAN, and WISTA International released a new booklet on building and maintaining gender diversity onboard merchant ships.

– Today, WISTA declared the formation of its Diversity Committee, to specialise in providing practical solutions improve the opportunities for gender diversity in the maritime industry.

The Role of the IWSF :

” The IWSF was started to give advice and help to women in shipping. we noticed that a lot of females had similar issues in the works paces, thus we decided to have a centralised channel to handle these problems,” says Capt. Radhika, the first Indian women captain and one of the founders of IWSF.

The organisation has brought together the women of the seafaring community and works to resolve policy connected shortcomings in shipping industries. The strength of those women is reflected in the objectives of IWSF in which they take a ability – based approach to gender sensitisation.

IWSF is very important as a source of knowledge for women seeking to join the maritime field as well. The foundation provides a clear and initial hand idea to the young generation, explaining the many opportunities available in shipping, encouraging them to take forward their dream of sailing the seas. Handling problems like women safety on board and also need to improve in policy, the IWSF is revolutionising life for women .

What is the role of ITF ?

– Reducing gender stereotypes within the industry.

– Provision of sanitary items on board ships.

– Access to confidential medical advice and the contraceptive and morning-after pill.

– Consistent and improved approach to maternity benefits and rights.

– Development of sexual harassment polices and appropriate training, including within cadet training and education.

– What are some of the advantages of having women aboard ships ?

A great advantage is that it creates a more regular social atmosphere. that’s specially necessary because the personality of seafaring life has changed in recent years. there’s less time to go ashore and there are less people on board. Having women as a part of the crew will decrease the sense of isolation felt by many seafarers. further additional, recent labour surveys of the shipping sector have indicated an existing – and growing – shortage of certain categories of seafarers, specially officers. women are an underutilised source of maritime talent that we’d like to draw upon to create up this shortage.

– Stories of Female Seafarers :

– Capt. Lynn Korwatch :

Serving as Execurive Director of Maritime Exchange of the San Francisco Bay Region. Capt. Korwatch is an inspiration for an entire generation of seafarers. In 1988, she was the first women ever to commond a United States commercial vessel.

– Capt. Kate McCue :

Captain McCue became the first American female to captain a mega-cruise ship in August 2015. She took the helm of Celebrity Cruises’ ship Summit. She began her career at sea as 3rd Officer working for another cruise line and gradually reached the top through hard work and determination.

– Capt. Wendy Williams

Staff Captain of Anthem of the Seas, she took the path less travelled and is one of the women rising through the officer ranks at Royal Caribbean. Her responsibilities include being responsible for overall ship maintenance, security on-board and looking after the navigation officers on the bridge. She is one of the most popular women seafarer and her appointment made news all throughout the world.

– Captain Sarah Breton

She became the first female captain in P&O Cruises’ 173-year history and the only woman ever to hold that exalted position on any UK cruise ship. She started her career at sea when she was 16 with a four-year cadetship.

– Capt. Inger Klein Olsen

In 2010, 43 year old Inger Klein Olsen created history when she assumed command of Queen Victoria ship. This was the first time in its 170 years history that a woman was placed at the helm of command. She started her Merchant Navy dream at 16 as stewardess on cargo ships.

– Capt. Radhika Menon

She became the first woman captain of the Indian merchant navy in 2013. “I knew I would become captain one day,” she says when asked about it. Capt. Menon has also won the ‘Bravery at Sea’ award.

Capt. Belinda Bennett

At 39 Belinda Bennett, a British citizen, became the Windstar’s first female and black captain. She handles and commands a crew of over 100 and steers a ship carrying over 140 passengers.

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Reference from : http://maritimeolympiad.com/women-seafarers/

References :





– http://www.ilo.org/global/publications/world-of-work-magazine/articles/WCMS_081322/lang–en/index.htm


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