At present, women seafarers make less than 2% of the entire maritime professional population. No doubt women seafarers are rare to find. However, in the last few years there has been a change in the trend with more women enrolling for maritime courses.
Owing to the lesser representation of women seafarers in the maritime industry, many a times their rights are overlooked. In any kind of male dominated industry, prejudice against women professionals is obvious.
This often runs a risk of their rights being denied to them. Keeping this in mind, International Labor Organization came up with a list of rights for women seafarers.
Here is a list of rights of women seafarers that cannot be denied to them:
- The first and most basic right according to International Labor Organization states that all women seafarers hold right to equality in job and education
- All female seafarers, like their male counterparts, are entitled to minimum wages and working conditions which has been set at $465.
- Women seafarers shall be allowed same working hours as their male counterparts, with maximum limit being 14 hours in a 24 hour period.
- Women seafarers will be entitled to be paid for overtime above the stipulated hours of work as set by the International Marine Organization (IMO) for all seafarers.
- IMO states that no lady mariner can be denied any maritime post on a vessel in lieu of her gender.
- Women have right to be guaranteed against any form of discrimination between men and women for any maritime job, in terms of equipment, working conditions or facilities.
- In case of maternity, women seafarers are entitled to same rights as in any other profession.
- For Flag of convenience vessels, the rights for maternity leaves for a lady mariner are as mentioned by the flag state. In certain cases, there may be no specified rights for such a situation at all. However, ITF secures their position with minimum rights that those women would still be entitled to.
- Women seafarers have the right to form or join any trade unions to represent themselves.
- ITF’s agreements with seafaring vessels ensure that in case of pregnancy, women seafarers will be allowed to repatriate with no deductions in salary.
- The time for repatriation is influenced by the state of legislation and the conditions on board. Depending on the country under whose legislation the vessel is sailing or the availability of a medical practitioner on the vessel, the time of repatriation can vary.
- ITF states that a pregnant lady mariner cannot be exposed to hazardous conditions while aboard.
- Under rights of women seafarers, ITF guarantees re-employment of the seafarer after the maternity leave.
- A lady mariner shall be given two months of salary as part of the maternity payment.
- ITF has developed a policy for women seafarers against bullying and harassment aboard. This policy applies to both men and women and indicates that no form of bullying or harassment would be tolerated against seafarers.
- Under the policy to improve the current rights for women, ITF proposed to include the following:
1. The vast gap between percentage of women and men holding important maritime jobs like officers should be bridged. At present, only 7% females are appointed in ranks of officers as opposed to 51% males. 93% female mariners are involved in ratings while only 41% of marine men are employed for this job.
2. Better representation for women through trade unions
3. Access to better facilities which include sanitary facilities, contraception, access to medical assistance onboard and onshore
4. Seek combined assistance of international organizations and ship owners’ organization to lower the extent of discrimination between men and women for important seafaring positions
5. Dealing with cases of sexual harassment, along with strengthening their safety aboard
Issues that jeopardize women’s safety and rights aboard vessels are constantly raised so that improvements can be made. ITF along with other organizations is constantly working towards making the marine industry fairer in offering opportunities to both genders of the society.