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September 30, 2023

Two-thirds of female seafarers report having encountered discrimination while at sea: WISTA

The Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) described the findings of its most recent survey on gender-based discrimination onboard as “shocking” in one word.

A recent WISTA International survey of 1,128 female seafarers from 78 countries found that two-thirds of them had experienced prejudice from their male counterparts.
Three hundred ninety-nine (or 33%) of the women who participated in the poll were from the Philippines, followed by 98 from the US, 57 from the UK, and 51 from South Africa.

“An in-depth survey in the maritime industry revealed shocking figures in gender-based discrimination against women, onboard harassment and bullying,” WISTA International said of the analysis released on Monday.
The remaining female sailors were from Indonesia, Brazil, Peru, India, and Colombia.

The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network, the International Chamber of Shipping, and Hong Kong-based ship management company Anglo Eastern collaborated on the poll.

According to the most recent poll, 97% of the women agreed that their workplace had a harassment and bullying policy, even though the majority still admitted to having been harassed.

In order to increase their visibility, level of awareness, and strict on-the-ground enforcement, organizations must make sure that their company harassment policies are widely publicized, according to WISTA, a group that works to support and recruit women to the shipping, logistics, and trading industries.

A further finding of the investigation was that 25% of the female seafarers on board, 90% of whom were employed on cruise ships, reported being the target of physical and sexual harassment that includes invasions of their privacy.

Additionally, a fifth of them claimed that men had privately invited them into their cabins or asked them intimate questions.

88% of seafarers who engage in physical or sexual harassment are men, and 25% of the women surveyed reported experiencing uncomfortable persuasion, inappropriate comments, or body shaming.

However, only 82% of female seafarers claimed to have received training on adjusting to the male-dominated environment on board, and only 13% of them reported experiencing harassment.

“There is an urgent need to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable maritime community, with women seafarers deserving a respectful and safe working environment,” said Sanjam Sahi Gupta, founder of WISTA India and co-chairwoman of the WISTA International Diversity Committee.

In order to achieve this, according to Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, president of WISTA International, the diversity committee has prioritised equity over equality.

This is a crucial distinction, she continued, because fairness guarantees that everyone has an equal opportunity to maximise their potential in light of their individual circumstances.

“These figures should be a wake-up call to the maritime sector and we will continue at every opportunity to raise the issues and bring about change.”

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