The Mission to Seafarers recently published a report called “Beyond the 2%, Women Seafarers and their Lives at Sea: Reflecting on Our Call to Care.” The report is intended to act as a discussion document for the charity Mission to Seafarers and other maritime welfare providers. It considers the unique challenges faced by women at sea and how organizations can tailor their support to contribute towards a better future for female seafarers.

The impact of the pandemic is still being experienced by seafarers as a whole. However, in light of the first International Day for Women in Maritime, the Mission feels that now is an opportune time to focus on the experiences of women at sea.

Despite many initiatives, women are still under-represented in the maritime industry and make up just 2% of the world’s estimated 1.2 million seafarers. More needs to be done to attract and retain women in the industry.

Both male and female seafarers experience a range of challenges when working at sea, but there are some that are specific to women as they must adapt to a male dominated working environment. The Mission aims to highlight some of the difficulties that women still encounter at sea in this report, including challenges specific to different vessels, such as cargo ships, cruise ships and superyachts. 

It is hoped that the report will help The Mission to Seafarers and other maritime welfare providers to reflect on our relationship with women seafarers, the care we provide to them, and how we might shape our services for the future so that we meet the needs of the women seafarers who visit ports and our centers around the world. 

“Women seafarers around the world are doing incredible work despite the challenges that they encounter. All seafarers work in a complex and difficult environment, but women seafarers face additional difficulties because of who they are. At The Mission to Seafarers, we are making a clear and firm commitment to women seafarers everywhere, that we will respond to their needs and find ways of supporting them through our network of chaplains, volunteers and seafarers’ centers. The report marks the start of a conversation about how we can care for the many dedicated women who work on our oceans today,” Revd Ijeoma Ajibade, regional director Europe, The Mission to Seafarers, said in a statement announcing the report. “As an international organization, The Mission to Seafarers is well placed to discuss these challenges and share ideas within our global Mission family. This report will hopefully act as a catalyst and help people generate ideas which can then be implemented across the Mission family.”