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.