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Health and safety

Female seafarers: what does personal safety at sea look like to you?

10 May 2024

Nautilus is encouraging its female members to take part in a global survey on their experiences of personal safety while working onboard all vessels, including those on cruiseships and ferries.

The confidential survey is being conducted by the Seafarers' Section of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), in recognition that a safe and inclusive environment is crucial for attracting more women into seafaring jobs and retaining those already working in the industry.

Women make up only an estimated 2% of the world's maritime workforce. According to the ITF, they tend to work mainly in the cruise and ferries sector, often for Flags of Convenience (FOC) vessels. These are among the worst paid and least protected of jobs at sea. Women also tend to be younger, and fewer are officers than their male crew mates. 

To get a better idea about the scope of personal safety of women seafarers, the ITF Seafarers' Section would like to hear as many personal experiences as possible from women at sea.

The ITF also keen to ensure that health and safety policies and collective bargaining agreements include women's concerns for personal safety.

Nautilus women's lead Rachel Lynch said: 'The Nautilus International women's network – part of the Union's Equality and Diversity Forum – is an important part of making our industry one that is welcoming to everyone. We hope that our women members will take part in this survey to assist the ITF in developing a wider response to such matters.'

Nautilus head of international relations Danny McGowan said: 'Nautilus's support and participation in ITF work is essential to ensuring the voices of maritime professionals are represented in the global maritime industry. We encourage all of our women members, across all sectors of the industry, to respond to this survey.'

Unions believe that central to personal safety is the eradication of bullying and harassment in line with the ILO Convention 190 (C190).

ITF seafarers and inland navigation coordinator Fabrizio Barcellona explained: 'We believe that the concerns of women should help inform best practices at sea and during travel to and from work…Making living and working onboard a safe and inclusive environment will benefit all seafarers'.

Nautilus is also supporting ongoing research into the experiences of UK seafarers of all genders in reporting sexual assaults at sea in order to determine levels of support required.

Safety is the theme of the International Maritime Organization's 2024 International Day for Women in Maritime, and the focus of a campaign  by the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network.

Take the ITF personal safety survey before the closing date of 31 May 2024.


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