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To celebrate IMO's third annual International Day for Women in Maritime Nautilus International and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Water Management spoke to second engineer and Nautilus member Marjan de Haas.

Ms de Haas, who works at Chemgas, was interviewed with her niece Marinde, who wants to do a nautical education and recently did a taster internship in shipping. They spoke about their maritime career aspirations, and the usefulness of a special IMO Maritime Women's Day – which this year draws specific attention globally to achieving a safe working environment and identifying opportunities that exist for women in the maritime sector.

Why is this day needed?

Marjan: 'I think the International Day for Women in Maritime is needed so that women are valued in the same way as men. Something that often doesn't happen now. And so that women are accepted.'

Marinde adds: 'I hope this will make women more interested in the maritime sector just like men. On this day, we make our voice heard and let it be known that women are also certainly suitable to work in the maritime sector.'

Marjan: 'It is indeed not always easy to "stand your ground" in a man's world, but fortunately I know how to adapt well.'

Marinde, what attracts you to a seafaring job in the maritime sector?

'It's partly because of Marjan who interested me in the maritime industry. And the more I read about it, the greater my interest became. In addition, a Women At Sea programme motivated me to choose to train as a pilot or mate.'

How could we all work together to ensure more equality in the maritime sector?

Marjan: 'More equality is created when men and women are assessed in the same way in appraisals, pay and so on. For example, when it comes to promotions, there is no longer any consideration of whether you are a woman or a man.'

According to Marjan, it is also unfortunate that in The Netherlands all tax benefits have been abolished, leaving seafarers to pay for things they do not use. There is also a large administrative burden. The government could address that to make the profession more attractive for both men and women.

Marjan: 'So, I say: motivate shipping companies to retain Dutch officers, both women and men.'


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Sustainable Development Goal

The IMO (United Nations International Maritime Organisation) support for promoting recruitment and opportunities for women in the maritime sector contributes to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and supporting work to address current gender inequalities. Among these measures was the establishment of a separate International Maritime Women's Day.

Image: IMO

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Marjan, what advice would you like to give Marinde about working as a seafarer?

Marjan: 'My advice is: always stay yourself. And always keep safety number one, so you know what to do in an emergency.'

What could the Dutch Ministry do to increase or improve the role of women in the maritime sector?

'As a ministry, encourage from all sides that more women start working in the maritime sector,' suggests Marjan. 'And of course: stand up for women when necessary!'

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Safe Horizons

The theme of this year's International Day for Women in Maritime is Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety. This highlights the crucial role women play in the maritime world when it comes to improving safety measures in the sector, whether in their role as seafarers, working in one of the other parts of the maritime sector or in leadership roles.

The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Water Management and Nautilus International are actively promoting maritime safety and gender equality and attracting women to the maritime professions within IMO and otherwise.

Nautilus executive officer in the Netherlands Sascha Meijer said: 'Trade union Nautilus International negotiates the terms of employment and working conditions of seafarers worldwide. Safety is number one in this respect. And the creed 'diversity works' is well known by now. Teams with more women, including at the top, work better, and also when it comes to safety.'

Nautilus and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) are also asking women at sea to take part in a survey about their own safety as part of this IMO day.

Image: IMO/Flickr

Take the ITF personal safety survey


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