A new research report released on International Women’s Day shines a spotlight on the welfare needs of women working on cargo ships.
The Seafarers’ Charity, a significant funder of maritime welfare services, is now calling on its funded charities to consider increasing their support for women working at sea – especially those working in the male-dominated cargo sector.
The ‘Port-Based Welfare Needs of Women Seafarers’ by Professor Helen Sampson and Dr Iris Acejo at the Seafarers International Research Centre, Cardiff University was funded by The Seafarers’ Charity. The research identifies that women working on cargo ships are likely to require more support from port welfare services because they suffer high levels of fear and loneliness while working in a male-dominated environment at sea. For these women, port welfare services can offer an escape from feeling isolated on board, as well as a friendly face and the potential for external support to address issues with male colleagues.
Key issues identified within the report include women seafarers’ concerns about their personal safety, their feelings of fear and isolation as well as the fundamental lack of practical facilities to support menstruation.
Women seafarers in this research face specific issues which cause them to feel alienated in a very male space where they feel they don’t belong. They are more fearful and more isolated than their male colleagues, resulting in greater feelings of stress. e.
Of the 30 women seafarers interviewed for the research, the majority described incidents of sexual harassment at work.
None of the women interviewed for the research had access to an appropriate facility for the hygienic disposal of sanitary products on board cargo ships... Women taking part in the research suggested that they would like to see seafarer centres offering sanitary products for sale as well as disposal facilities.
Deborah Layde, Chief Executive at The Seafarers’ Charity and Chair of Maritime UK’s Women in Maritime Network said:
‘Women are in a minority on board cargo ships, but this shouldn’t mean their needs are ignored…
At The Seafarers’ Charity we want to ensure that women who choose a career at sea are safe and are able to access appropriate welfare support as and when they need it.’
To consider the issues raised by this research, The Seafarers’ Charity are partnering with the International Christian Maritime Association on a webinar on “Supporting Welfare of Women at Sea” on Wednesday 20th April at 14.00 to 15.15 (GMT).
The webinar aims to raise awareness of the welfare needs of women seafarers and consider how maritime welfare charities can increase their support for women working at sea