Union leaders call for greater ‘inclusivity’ of women seafarers

  • Post published:11 April 2022
Liew: "It is important to see the female seafarer ratio grow, and not shrink further."

This article had been reproduced in full with permission from Lloyd’s List.

The article is written by Megawati Wijaya, Senior Reporter for Lloyd’s List.

Shipping firms should provide relevant support network and change their corporate culture to make the workplace more inclusive to women seafarers, Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union general secretary Mary Liew told Lloyd’s List.

Besides flexible work arrangements, companies should send messages across the spectrum of male seafarers to ensure the workplace is safe and less hostile to their women counterparts, Ms Liew said on the sidelines of the Maritime Manpower Forum, part of the Singapore Maritime Week.

Such messages include no tolerance of harassment as well as training in soft skills, such as grievance handling, she said.

Women make up only 1.2% of seafarers globally, Stephen Cotton, general secretary at the International Transport Workers’ Federation told a panel at the same forum.

Compared with other industries such as banking, shipping has more work to do to be gender-inclusive, he said. Mr Cotton also emphasised the importance of culture and mindset change amid the global competition for maritime talent.

“It’s important to see this woman seafarer ratio grow, and not shrink further, by giving them the relevant support,” Ms Liew told Lloyd’s List.

Ms Liew noted that there are many shipping companies in Singapore that have been progressive. She pointed to Pacific International Lines, which gives its female crew direct access to female executives in the head office to raise any issues.

Ms Liew also mentioned PACC Line Private and Shell as two other employers that have taken actions to promote more gender-inclusivity.

Technology and digitalisation, which makes some work relating to ships less manual, have played a part in promoting more women taking part in seafaring, Ms Liew told Lloyd’s List.

“Seafarers work in a very tough environment, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of opportunities in the field,” Ms Liew said. A progressive company culture and mindset will help provide equal playing field to both men and women seafarers to grab these opportunities, she said.