European social partners seek to increase women seafarer numbers

26 June 2018

Nautilus was represented at a meeting of European unions and shipowners which agreed plans to increase the number of women at working at sea.

The European Transport Workers' Federation, (ETF) and the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) discussed possible solutions to increase women's participation in the EU shipping industry during the second day of Seafarers Awareness Week – which has maritime career opportunities as its theme.

The meeting heard that only 2% of the available EU seafaring workforce consists of women, despite the fact that gender equality is at the heart of the EU's fundamental values for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Discussions focused on maritime training and career development for women, as well as the recruitment and retention of women in the shipping industry.

Alongside representatives of both the ETF (which has representation from the Union) and ECSA, delegates came from a wide range of stakeholders, such as the European Commission (Platform for Change), the European Economic and Social Council, the UK Merchant Navy Training Board, national administrations from France and the UK, researchers from the Paris Descartes University, and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), who provided an example of good practices in other sectors.

ECSA secretary-general Martin Dorsman said: 'If we want strong, prosperous and socially sustainable maritime clusters in Europe, gender diversity should be a leading principle as a means to attract and retain new talent in the shipping industry.

'Women role models in senior positions can help to send a message across the industry that women do have a place in this traditionally male-dominated sector,' he concluded.

ETF maritime transport representative Tonka Cupic added: 'To attract more women to the industry, we should improve the working conditions for everyone. Reconciliation of work and family life and prevention of harassment are key to not only recruiting, but also retaining more women seafarers and enabling them to develop a career in shipping.

Nautilus head of strategy Debbie Cavaldoro said: 'The meeting has given impetus to the social partners' work on tackling fairness, equality and inclusion in order to make the maritime industry more attractive to women. Today they took a first step towards finding concrete proposals for joint action.'

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