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Health and safety

ISWAN outlines women's safety at sea awareness campaign

25 June 2024

In keeping with the IMO Day of the Seafarer safety theme, the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) outlined its plans for a six-month women's safety at sea awareness campaign.

The personal safety campaign comes amid the backdrop of research which shows that women seafarers face specific safety issues at sea, such as a lack of access to women's healthcare, appropriately sized protective clothing and equipment, and designated spaces for women onboard. Women are also more likely than men to suffer bullying and harassment.

Ahead of the campaign launch, Nautilus representatives have contributed to research focus groups looking at specific gender experiences of safety at sea. 

Across all of ISWAN's helplines, in 2023, women were more than three times as likely to raise abuse, bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence than men. Women were also more than twice as likely to raise a mental health issue than men. ISWAN helplines show a close correlation between experiences of abuse and mental health challenges.

ISWAN says the campaign is needed because the industry is slow to recognise and tackle the problem; has failed to enact the required culture change; and that male seafarers do not yet understand that they have an important role to play or what that role is.

The ISWAN focus groups showed that female seafarers want inclusivity to be a key message; they want to be treated equally, not singled out, or treated as a special case onboard.

They also heard that female seafarers report harrowing experiences onboard. While campaign messaging should 'avoid pointing the finger at men', it must also reflect the seriousness of women's experiences, says ISWAN. 'Women seafarers want to feel included onboard but also empowered to call out unacceptable behaviour.'

The campaign will run under the slogan 'Safe at takes all of us!' with the social media hashtags #CrewAllySHIP #WeAllBelong.

ISWAN is also appealing to seafarers to share their lived experiences and sign up to get involved in the campaign.

On the Day of the Seafarer, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is asking for all seafarers to take the opportunity to share their safety tips. You can hear more on action to tackle safety onboard in our NautilusTV interview with IMO secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez.

The Seafarers' Section of the International Transport Workers' Federation has also extended the deadline for a global survey asking for female seafarers' experiences of personal safety while working onboard all Merchant Navy sector vessels.