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Call for seafarer centres to urgently provide more welfare support for women

Call for seafarer centres to urgently provide more welfare support for women
17 April 2023

Port-based welfare centres have been asked to urgently improve their services to meet the specific needs of women at sea and support industry efforts to attract and retain female crew. Deborah McPherson reports

Eight key recommendations for port welfare providers are made in the report Port-Based Welfare Needs of Women Seafarers by Professor Helen Sampson and Dr Iris Acejo at the Seafarers International Research Centre, Cardiff University with funding from The Seafarers' Charity.

Key issues identified included female seafarers' concerns about their personal safety at sea, their feelings of fear and isolation, slow promotion, less access to useful training, as well as a fundamental lack of practical facilities to support menstruation onboard and at seafarer centres.

None of the 30 women interviewed had access to an appropriate facility for the hygienic disposal of sanitary products on board cargo ships. Most could not buy sanitary products onboard.

The seafarers worked across the cargo, dredging, offshore and yachting sectors in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, and represented various ranks and ages.

The authors recognised the practical and mental health issues identified in their report has been an ongoing area of concern for women seafarers for at least 20 years, since research published by the International Labour Organisation in 2003.

The report echoes concerns identified by Nautilus members and campaigned on by the Union. For example, a recent industry report by the EU Maritime Women project supported by Nautilus recommends how the shipping industry can address these issues in order to attract more female seafarers.

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