Women Seafarers on International Women’s Day

by OldSailor on March 8, 2008


ardhanari_1 ardhanari_2 violence itf_poster

Image source:tibetladen, itfglobal

The images of statues you see above are something unique. It is a human form of male and female in 50:50 power sharing mode called Ardhanari preached in Hinduism. As per UN’s International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women in November 2003, one in three women (33.3 %) in the world face physical violence, sexual abuse by their male counter parts because they are females. Iam sure by now the percentage has not come down.

Women have proved that they can equally perform or even perform better than men in all fields from shipping to space. Today is International Women’s Day. I salute all those brave women seafarers who work in male dominated marine environment. It is time now for the male seafarers to accept them and give them their due respect.

How do women perform in their work place ?

Women in work place are

  • responsible
  • dedicated
  • loyal
  • successful managers

What is the role of women in Marine Environment ?

Women are seen in all spheres of marine environment

  • in ship design and ship building
  • in manning the ships
  • in sea ports
  • in diving
  • in marine sports: swimming, parasailing etc.,
  • in fishing

Women in Ship design and Ship building

Women preferring engineering as their profession are increasing in all branches of engineering including Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.

Women in manning the Ships

Though shipping is largely a male dominated sector, there is a increasing trend of women preferring to be seafarers. Women represent only 1 to 2% of total sea farers. As per ILO’s report of 2003,

  • 94% of women seafarers are in passenger ships
    • 68% on ferries
    • 26% on cruise ships
  • 6% of women seafarers are in cargo vessels like container ships, oil tankers
  • in cruisers women seafarers are 17 to 18% of the total crew


Women in shipping

Women are there in the ships in limited numbers as masters, chief engineers and other officers. But in passenger ships they are more employed as stewards and cooks. Women face the following in ships:

  • working in watches or shifts like males
  • stress due to work, isolation from family, confinement
  • gender discrimination, sexual harassment
  • lack of acceptance and respect from male counterparts
  • inadequate health facilities to address women related health issues
  • less in numbers comparing to males
  • as employment is on renewable contracts there are occasions where they are not able to complete the contract due to pregnancy etc
  • limited promotions though they are competent

Women in Sea Ports

Women are adequately represented in sea ports in different positions. Gender discrimination is seen here also.


Click the image to read more

Women in Diving

It is seen that women divers perform better than male divers. Even there is a separate website for women divers and you can find out the reason also. Here is Japan’s Ama woman diver Kotoyo Motohashi in her age of 68 who has been diving since the age of 18 without tanks.

japanese ama women diver

Click the image to read more

Women in Marine Sports


bula Here is Bula Chowdhury, the queen of Seven Seas.

Parasailing: Women police commandos are trained in parasailing also.

Women in Fishing

fishing_women Women are good in fishing also

Here is Soanya who was at sea for 306 days without touching the land


Click the image to read more

Click here to view a video clip on women seafarers

Update: July 31

And at the end of the day, as the world sleeps, the uppermost thought on a woman marine engineer’s mind is the smooth running of the ship. Read more from Life at Sea.

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