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NMP: More women becoming seafarers

NMP: More women becoming seafarers

More women are joining the Philippine maritime industry as seafarers, resulting in improved productivity and reflecting the government’s commitment to the United Nations (UN) to promote gender equality in the sector, state-run National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) said recently.

According to Grace Marie Ayaso, head of NMP’s research and development division, the presence of female seafarers in ships has increased their male counterparts’ productivity.

“We already have a number of women seafarers enrolled or in ships. [We even] have two women officers who were training with us and have already boarded,” Ayaso said in a briefing in Manila last weekend.

They claimed the crew was happier and more disciplined when there were women on board, she added.

This comes more than seven years after the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved a resolution encouraging female participation in the maritime industry, despite that it remains a male-dominated field.

A specialized agency of the UN, IMO is responsible for regulating shipping worldwide. It has 173 member-states, including the Philippines, and three associate members.

The said resolution—IMO Resolution 14—was adopted by 85 countries in 2010 during the Manila amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 and to the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code, as amended.

It also noted the resolution promoting opportunities for female seafarers that the International Labor Conference of the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted on February 22, 2006.

The resolution invites governments to give special consideration to men and women having equal access to all the industry’s sectors, and to highlight the role of women in seafaring.

It also endeavors to identify and overcome challenges facing women in the industry, including the lack of facilities for them in training vessels.

Romulo Bernardes, executive director at NMP, said the number of women in ships continued to increase, recognizing their capability to do jobs once exclusively assigned to men.

“By experience and by report, a lot of vessels have become more productive because of the respect accorded to women officers on board. With women on board, the situation has now become different, unlike before,” he added.

“Before when there were women on board ships, they were often [disrespected], but not now,” Bernardes said.

As the premier government-owned maritime training and research institution, NMP has value-added courses and
other support programs to promote gender equality and address gender-related issues in the maritime sector, specifically the low level of awareness on gender and development among seafarers.

“NMP came up with a [gender sensitivity training course]for seafarers. This is a non-STCW training course developed by NMP for the Filipino seafarers to increase their level of awareness and appreciation on gender and development,” Bernardes said.