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AMOSUP steps up effort for shipboard gender equality

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Cognizant of the giant gap in gender status that has disadvantaged women in the seafaring industry over the years, the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) headed by its president, Dr. Conrado F. Oca, has embarked on enhanced move for a more effective observance of “gender equality” in the seafaring industry.

Gender equality   must be observed and respected both on board ship and in offshore employment, said Oca, who  has called for a stronger voice of female seafarers and promotion of women empowerment in their seafaring career.  Currently, there are about 1.2 million ton 1.5 million seafarers in the world’s merchant  fleet. Yet, there are only 1.5 percent to two percent of them  are female, showing no remarkable increase in their population in seafaring world has taken place in the past decades.

Women empowerment once again drew  special  attention and interest from the world’s stakeholders, as the Philippines is a major supplier of merchant marine manpower in the world’s merchant marine fleet.   A  good news for women seafarers is that their deployment to cruises as hotel and catering service staff is increasing, despite continuing  gender gap in seafaring sector.  Data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)showed that there are about 14 to 16 percent of non-marine personnel on passenger ships deployed from 2011 to 2014. DOLE-Philippine Overseas Employment Administration  (POEA) reported ht there were more than 90 percent of female seafarers served in this line of service, but still they were far out numbered by male seafarers  in passenger ships.

To push its firm  support  for  for shipboard gender equality, Dr. Oca  said AMOSUP conducted seminars  openly inviting  female crew members as participants,  in cooperation with affiliates-unions  that are usually held every March of the year, where  Women Month is observed in the country. Likewise, AMOSUP embarked on increasing awareness  to fight and stop  “discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying” – that moved the union to incorporate a comprehensive text in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) to effect prohibition such forms acts.

Oca, a doctor of medicine,   said, “We encourage female employments of all kinds of roles,” adding “it is important to come out with  effective policies for the women’s welfare, such as maternity benefits to include, the proposed maternity benefit law, proposed shorter contracts for them, and priority for re-hiring  after giving birth, and where women seafarer find it possible to combine roles of having a family and working at sea, through human and doable legislations,  rules and regulations.”

It was AMOSUP founder Capt. Gregorio S. Oca, first chairman of governing board of Maritime Academy of  Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), and MAAP president  VAdm Eduardo Ma. R. Santos  AFP (ret.) more than 10 years ago, who initiated in the academy the policy on strict observance and respect for “gender equality” on board  ship and in other place of maritime work.

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