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            april 19, 2019

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Indiaexportnews.com

ILO calls for greater effort to attract women, youngsters to life at sea

  20.03.2019    

Members attending the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) meeting in Geneva vowed to take steps to attract and retain more women seafarers by tackling the problems of discrimination, isolation and even sexual harassment that they face along with other groups vulnerable to discrimination by the industry.
Representatives from governments, shipowners and seafarer organisations, met between February 25 and March 1 to adopt measures that aim to make a career in seafaring for attractive to young people and to retain experienced seafarers, ensure social diversity and opportunities for all.
"This meeting addressed the issues and approaches needed to ensure that the future of work in the maritime shipping sector is attractive, including for women and other groups vulnerable to discrimination, and that it retains qualified seafarers," said the meeting's chairperson Henrik Munthe, who is a law attorney at the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise.
While there are many positive and attractive aspects to a maritime career, there are also challenges and issues that may dissuade young people from becoming seafarers and may cause experienced seafarers to abandon the profession.
The projected seafarer shortage, in particular of officers, calls for promoting good practices and addressing problem areas to ensure that there are qualified and motivated seafarers in the future.
Maritime shipping, as with other sectors, has been forced to adjust to ongoing technological changes. These include automation and digitalisation, reduced crew sizes and the resultant potential stress and isolation, limited shore leave and amendments to shipping operations and management.
Developments in communication technology, such as Internet access, including on the high seas, are generally positive, providing seafarers with the means to keep in contact with friends and family ashore but these also may lead to less social interaction on board.
Chamber of Shipping of America CEO Kathy Metcalf was quoted as saying: "We were able to communicate our concerns and possible solutions on key issues and also to highlight good practices in our industry that could be emulated.
"This will help us in our efforts to ensure that shipping is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable and, therefore, ready for the future with a view to preserving and enhancing greatest asset, the seafarer."
Women comprise only a small percentage of serving seafarers, making them an under-utilised resource. Too many women in the sector are said to face problems such as discrimination, isolation and even sexual harassment.
Director of cruise operations at the Norwegian Seafarers' Union Lena Dyring said: "I was particularly pleased that we had a good discussion, ending with quite specific recommendations for action, including through social dialogue, to improve the seagoing life for young and ageing seafarers, women seafarers and seafarers from other vulnerable groups."
The outcome of the meeting will be submitted to the governing body of the ILO for consideration at this November's session.



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