Female seafarers

June 08, 2019

DON’T look now, but the government and the private sector are committed to work for gender equality in the seafaring industry, which is a major pillar of the Philippine economy.

Leading the move are the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Gig and Amazing Sampaguita Foundation, Inc. (GASFI).

It is certainly disheartening to note that of the 1.65 million seafarers aboard internationally trading merchant ships, only two percent are women, according to the International Chamber of Shipping.

Statistics also show that only 73,027 women were issued the so-called Seafarer’s Identification and Record     Book in 2018. That year, some one million Filipino mariners were issued the said book.

Marissa Oca, founder and president of GASFI which is a non-stock, non-profit private group, paid a glowing tribute to Filipino female seafarers, describing them as “bolder and highly-driver.”

Unlike men, female seafarers have a propensity for not backing down from offers for higher positions, according to Ms. Oca, a daughter of the late master mariner Capt. Gregorio S. Oca.

The lady GASFI president said  many male mariners do not want to be promoted anymore because they are already satisfied with their salaries and other benefits.

At the same time, Oca said that our female seafarers bear the social cost of their profession. After spending so much time at sea, they feel isolated when they return home, she added.

She lamented: “They feel that their families do not know them. Or they have no friends at all. Some of them have difficulty in keeping up with the long-distance relationships.”

OCA said GASFI is holding a “Seafarer Family International Congress” on August 14-15 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City to discuss the many challenges of female mariners.

Earlier this year, MARINA conducted a seminar-workshop as part of efforts to uphold the rights of women in the seafaring sector.

Doubtless, MARINA and GASFI deserve the all-out support of the Filipino people as they exert their best efforts to ensure gender equality in the dollar-oriented maritime industry.