India frames pathbreaking guidelines to push more women into becoming seafarers

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on September 26, 2019

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The guidelines apply to ship-owning and ship managing companies that operate ships over 500 GRT registered under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1958


A day before World Maritime Day (September 27) is celebrated throughout the globe, India’s maritime administration, the directorate general of shipping or DGS, has announced guidelines, the first of their kind, outlining measures to promote women seafarers by providing a conducive work atmosphere on-board ships.

The theme for this year’s World Maritime Day this year is: Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.

Currently, lndian women seafarers joining the merchant navy are far and few in between. The global supply of seafarers available for service on ships trading internationally is estimated at 16.41 lakh -- women seafarers represent 2 per cent of this total.

ln lndia, the representation of women seafarers is a paltry 1 per cent.

The guidelines apply to ship-owning and ship managing companies that operate ships over 500 gross registered tonnage (GRT), registered under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1958. It may also be adopted for ships below 500 GRT by the ship owners.

What are the guidelines?

To promote greater participation of women in maritime training and at all levels in the maritime industry, the DGS has recommended age relaxation for girl candidates for 2 years to various pre-sea courses.

“lt would be desirable to give special treatment to potential women seafarers who want to join pre-sea courses in any of the approved training institutes,” an official said.

"Improving the participation of women in society leads to better social and economic outcomes. This is also true in the maritime community. So, it is critical that women are provided with equal access to opportunities at all levels and within all sectors of the maritime industry. Experience shows that, when they are given those opportunities, women are strong and successful -- continually challenging old-fashioned and outdated perceptions and proving that, today, the maritime industries are for everyone. It’s not about your gender, it's about what you can do,” Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, said.

The guidelines cover recruitment and placement of women seafarers, maternity leave and re-joining, basic needs on board for women seafarers, on-board complaints and ä redressal system to deal with sexual harassment and handle gender sensitisation.

The guidelines says that ship-owning companies should not discriminate based on gender in employment, wages and promotions.

It also deals with pregnant seafarers, offering them suitable employment on-shore and their re-employment after a maternity break.

Every effort should be made, by means of set procedures and guidelines, to resolve on-board complaints of sexual harassment on the ship itself in a fair, effective and expeditious manner, keeping the confidentiality of the complainant and person against whom the complaint is made.

Rights of the complainant should be protected, including security in their existing job. At no point shall a complainant be penalised for making a complaint, the guidelines said.

Published on September 26, 2019
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