Women Participation in Marine Industry the Relation Essay

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Women Participation in Marine Industry

The Relation Ship between the Participation of Woman in Maritime Sectors and Various Policy Organizations

Women represent a considerable portion of the world's labor force. However they face the hurdles of wage discrimination, harassment, and occupational segregation which ultimately limit their economic advancement. Historically, marine industry does not tend to be a successful career path for women. However, with the passage of time women have penetrated quite deeply in this marine industry. This essay highlights the participation of women in marine industry and the role played by policy making organizations like International Transport Federation (ITF), Seafarers International Research Center (SIRC), International Labor Organization (ILO), and International Maritime Organization (IMO). It explains the extent to which these various marine bodies are addressing the issue of gender.

The Relation Ship between the Participation of Woman in Maritime Sectors and Various Policy Organizations

Traditionally marine industry has been dominated by men. With the passage of time, women started to participate in marine jobs like stewardesses, crew members, hotel staff etc. However, women need to struggle well to gain employment and promotion in the maritime industry. Organizations like International Marine Organization (IMO), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF), and Seafarer's International Research Center (SIRC) are core organizations which play in important role in taking initiatives in measuring the participation rate of women, their recruitment and retention, identifying good practice and recommending measures to better integrate women into shipboard communities.

Women only constitute 1-2% of 1.25 million seafarers. The share of women in marine industry varies by region, company, sector and country. Most of the women are employed in passenger ships as hotel staffs, which comprise of both ferries and cruise ships. According to the survey by SIRC/ILO, 94 per cent of women work in passenger ships while only 6 per cent were employed at cargo ships with majority of them working in hotels or catering sector (Belcher et. al, 2003). Trade unions also have low women participation. The teaching and research staff at majority of the marine training institutions is also dominated by men. Most of the companies do not consider women as appropriate for carrying out the laborious work at sea and thus do not hire them. Not only this, training institutions also demonstrate discrimination against women by considering them to be less loyal candidates in comparison to their male counterparts. Women are considered to be more likely to leave the job at sea, especially after their marriage. Thus most of the Asian and European countries have extremely low participation of women in this sector. Such misconceptions and stereotypes limit the participation of women in marine industry.

The recruitment of women in marine industry and their retention does not depend solely on market demand. Marine regulating agencies, trade unions, and shipping company policies play a vital role in implementing appropriate policies that will determine whether women will join in and remain with the marine sector (Wu, 2005). The essay will now discuss the influential role of all the four organizations in enhancing women participation in marine industry.

The International Marine Organization (IMO)

IMO plays an integral role in recognizing the importance of women in marine sector, despite the fact that the industry remains highly male-oriented. IMO encourages greater participation of women in this industry, although the industry involves high technicalities and specializations. IMO recognized that women form an underutilized and underdeveloped resource which could cater the marine industry well and solve several problems encounter by the marine world. The Integrated Technical Cooperation program founded by IMO tends to be its core initiative in women employment from developing countries in shipping industry (IMO, 2008). IMO produced innovative strategy for the integration of women into the maritime sector in 1988 and the implementation started with the IMO Women in Development Program in 1989. This program revolved around providing equal access of maritime training to women through both mainstream programs and gender specific projects. The success of IMO'S initiatives was seen with the increased percentage of women students at the World Maritime University, which increased from 6 per cent to 30 per cent in the past decade (IMO, 2008).

IMO's global program for Integration of Women in the Marine Sector aims at improving women's access to marine training and technology and increase women representation at senior management level. The first medium-term plan for integration of women in marine sector was covered during 1992-96 and revised later on during the period 1997-2001 (Belcher et. al, 2003). The plan's main objective was to integrate women in mainstream marine activities and consolidate women integration in marine sector as a pivotal part of IMO's all cooperation activities (Thomas, 2006).

The International Labor Organization (ILO)

ILO embodies various important standards against significant marine question, ranging from establishment of adequate procedures for seafarers, complaints arising in the sector, safety measures to issues pertaining to women harassment and discrimination in the marine sector (Thomas, 2006). The Discrimination (Employment and Education) Convention established in 1958 by ILO tends to be one of the eight core international standards formed on the grounds of sex discrimination. This Convention prohibits all sorts of sex discrimination pertaining to vocational training, access to employment, termination of employment and terms and conditions of employment (Belcher et. al, 2003). In 1999, the director general of ILO issued high commitment towards gender equality and gender mainstreaming in all the work done by the organization worldwide.

The core aim of ILO is to promote gender equality in standard setting and supervision. It aims at giving equal rights to women in training, promotion and decision-making as well as in the attainment of equal benefits including security, social security and welfare services. It also aims at protecting women during working condition in order to avoid risky situations. ILO conducts a variety of training sessions, research, advisory services, technical cooperation activities and worker education workshops in order to address equality principles and rights. Some significant topics addressed by ILO include: women in decision making, maternity protection, and sexual harassment. The Joint Marine Commission in 2001 was presented in ILO's Sectoral Activities Program which also addressed gender issues pertaining to accommodation issues and sexual harassment (Dcomm, 2003). The program also presented a survey on women seafarer in EU countries and the working conditions faced by them.

The International Transport Workers Federation

Seafarers and dockers' union leader formed the International Transport Workers' Federation in 1886. The federation now represents 136 trade unions with over 5 million workers. It aims at defending the rights of transport workers in the global economy. It develops common strategies, bring trade unions closer and share information in specialized areas. It also plays a pivotal role in developing and promoting the rights of seafarers, especially women (Belcher et. al, 2003).

The ITF formed Women Committee in 1998 which aimed at addressing specific issues pertaining to women seafarers. The committee comprised of approximately 30 regional and industrial representatives who play an important role in advising ITF's Executive Board regarding gender related problems. Not only this, ITF also introduced an anti-discriminatory policy in 1994 which addressed harassment of women seafarers. ITF discourages the differential pay of women and men in marine industry. The IMEC model agreement presented by ITF make employers sign agreements pertaining to issues like pregnancy and maternity benefits for women. However, despite these strenuous efforts, there exist situations where ITF fails in putting forward gender-related issues at higher level in many other member unions (Belcher et. al, 2003).

Seafarers International Research Center (SIRC)

Seafarers International Research Center was formed in the year 1995 with the purpose of conducting research about seafarers. This organization has attained unparalleled experience in the domain of research pertaining to seafarers and the marine industry. It particularly addresses issues related to health and safety of seafarers and aims at contributing positively to the lives of seafarers. The research center is well equipped with qualified research personnel and has been successful in publishing a handsome amount of publications on several topics ranging from seafarer's working conditions, their health and safety, labor market issues, education and training and welfare of women seafarers.

SIRC has conducted a considerable amount of surveys regarding participation of women in marine industry, their attitudes and experiences and popular myths regarding women employment in the marine sector. Publications by SIRC highlighted the fact that there exist numerous misconceptions relating to the idea of appropriate jobs for men and women. Their research presented the fact that mostly Asian and European companies held stereotypes against women working on the sea and believed that they are suitable for only few hotel-based jobs on the ship. SIRC proposed the idea of promoting positive experiences of companies employing women seafarers, in order to diminish the stereotypes prevalent in major companies of the marine sector. SIRC also conducted research regarding the retention problem faced by the marine industry particularly in cases of women. Another SIRC research indicated that women on board create more normal environment and actually improve the moral on board. Moreover, SIRC has…[continue]

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