Anglo Eastern Group, one of the largest employers of Indian seafarers, has said it would recruit more women seafarers as part of a drive to increase gender diversity in the shipping sector.

The Hong Kong-based company has committed to annually hire at least 40 women seafarers who have undergone `ratings’ training — namely semi-skilled seafarers who carry out support work for officers in all departments aboard cargo ships.

Those trained by Indian maritime institutes approved by the Directorate General of Shipping are eligible to apply. The Indian government recently issued advisories to encourage the inclusion of women in industries and sectors like maritime that are traditionally dominated by men.

“The women ‘ratings’ will be subjected to our stringent hiring processes and thereafter will be employed aboard our cargo vessels. This year onwards, we wish to employ at least 40 women ratings every year, and this number is most likely to increase phenomenally in the years to come,” said Vineet Gupta, Managing Director, Anglo Eastern Ship Management India.

The position entails a range of tasks essential to the safe operation and maintenance of the ship. The ratings may be employed either in the deck department or engine department and their tasks would be related to seamanship, cargo handling, maintenance work on deck, operation and maintenance of machinery, and so on.

On average, ratings earn about $1,500 a month. If an Indian serves aboard a ship for over 181 days in a financial year, his/her gross salary will not attract income tax.

Anglo Eastern Group aspires to be one of the largest employers of Indian women ratings in the near future. “India is on the verge to take-off to become a powerhouse of the world economy. This big leap is impossible without maximum possible participation of Indian women. Hence the drive to train and include Indian women in mainstream professions, though the shipping industry is just about starting to add women to its workforce,” Gupta said.

Even as a sizeable number of Kerala women join the nursing sector in West Asia each year, the Anglo Eastern Group’s guaranteed placement for women ratings would be a huge boost for the maritime state as merchant navy gains in popularity among the student population, he said.