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AMOSUP Women tackles gender equality

The group hopes to break down barriers preventing women from working at sea and get rid of biased opinions including equal opportunity regardless of genders to work on board ships

Women’s day or not, AMOSUP values the significant role women play in the maritime union both afloat and ashore.

But the recent International Women’s Day celebration further highlighted the opportunity to raise gender equality and the contribution of women all over the world to the shipping industry as the IMO’s theme for the 2019 International Day of the Seafarer is “Empowering women in the maritime community.”

At AMOSUP, the maritime union has “always believed in the exceptional capabilities and impressive strength of our women seafarers,” said President Dr Conrado Oca. The presence of its organisation, AMOSUP Women, which the union members formed in 2017 to advance the interest of their rights, is now their voices to be recognised and respected, he said.

“We applaud you for your achievements and continuous efforts to succeed despite the challenges you face and for that we are here to support, encourage and to empower you,” stated Dr Oca in a message VP Jesus Sale Jr read at the Women’s Day celebration at the AMOSUP Convention Hall last 08 March.

Women empowerment

AMOSUP Women marked the 2019 celebration dubbed as “Port Call at AMOSUP: Touching base with Women Maritime Professionals”. Alongside male seafarers, the theme was apt as women in this profession come ashore once in a while and now get the chance to muster members to encourage participation in a celebration with a prepared programme.

The occasion tackled the need for policy makers to push stakeholders to double their efforts in accelerating gender equality in seafaring. The gender gap in maritime sector has been serious, according to Professor Lucia Tangi of the Department of Journalism, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.

She said stakeholders like shipowners, crewing agents and the government must review existing industry policies that promote or perpetuate gender discrimination and other forms of biases as race and age. “They must have women empowerment programme and impose sanctions on members who discriminate women,” Prof Tangi told AMOSUP Women.

Prof Tangi, who conducted a study on women seafarers in the Philippines, said stakeholders should mind the gap and create an action plan to increase women’s participation in the industry. She suggested, for instance, a five percent spike in employment over the next five years from the current three percent share in female seafarers.

There were 17,101 women and 432,362 male seafarers working on board ship in 2017. The women seafarers comprised 3.8 percent of the 449,463 total seafarers. Out of the 17,101 women seafarers, 285 were officers, 105 Ratings and 16,711 non marine personnel, the study showed.

Not easy to be a woman

It’s not easy to be a woman in such a male dominated industry, according to Lena Dyring, the women representative of the ITF Seafarers’ Section. “You have followed your dream and done it anyway. You’re examples to follow and for other women looking to follow their dream and looking at seafaring as a career option for themselves,” she told in a video message to AMOSUP Women during the celebration.

Ms Dyring said she hopes barriers would break down preventing women from working at sea and get rid of biased opinions including equal opportunity for men and women to work on board. “AMOSUP Women are leading the way in this important job and what you’re doing today will make it easier for women to follow in your footsteps,” she added.

At the academic level, where men and women start to shape up their dreams, women have been told to find more employment. MAAP president, Vice Admiral Eduardo Santos, stressed, that women in maritime must have jobs to be successful.

“That’s going to be the basic issue. Let’s get more jobs. I want that to be the fighting motto for everyone,” he said. He has this advice for those working in the office and at sea: “If you’re already at sea, try to have another woman to replace you. If you’re in the office, try to convince the company or the bosses to hire more women.”

AMOSUP Women chair, Captain Jasmin Labarda, on the other hand, inspired members and those in attendance at the recent celebration. “The maritime industry is the place for women too. THIS IS OUR WORLD TOO,” she exclaimed. #ThisIsOurWorldToo is the ITF Women programme as its battle cry at the launch of the organisation in 2017.

“That means we have also our family, we also have loved ones to support too and we want to earn for our family. For almost 100 years the industry has been dominated by male,” Capt. Labarda added.

Captain Labarda ended her speech with a powerful line about women as agents of change. “At AMOSUP Women, our focus is changing ourselves. Once we change the spectacle, the glass on how we view ourselves, everything else will change,” Capt. Labarda stressed. SF