International Day for Women in Maritime

18 May 2024

Today (18 May), we celebrate the International Day for Women in Maritime for the third time. With a specific focus on achieving a safe and promising working environment for women in the maritime sector all around the world. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and trade union Nautilus International (FNV) spoke to Dutch women at sea. Marjan de Haas, sailing as a Second Engineer at Chemgas, and her niece Marinde, who is eager to pursue a maritime education and recently did an introductory internship in shipping, talk about their work in the maritime men's world and the usefulness of a special maritime women's day. 

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 does not 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 will make our voice heard and let it be known that women are definitely also suited 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 is partly because of Marjan who got me interested in seafaring. And the more I read about it, the greater my interest became. The Women At Sea programme also motivated me to choose to train as a pilot or mate."

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

Marjan: "Greater equality is created when men and women are assessed the same way on paper and in pay and that, in promotions among other things, there is no longer any consideration of whether you are female or male." 

According to Marjan, it is further unfortunate that all tax breaks have been abolished, forcing seafarers to pay for things they do not use. There is also a lot of regulatory pressure. The government can address that to make the profession more attractive. For men and for women. Marjan: "So I say: encourage the shipping companies to retain Dutch officers, both women and men."

Marjan, what would you like to pass on to 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 ministry do to increase or improve the role of women in the maritime sector? 

" As a ministry, make every effort from all sides to promote more women entering the maritime sector," says Marjan. "And of course: stand up for women when that's needed!"

Sustainable Development Goal

The IMO (United Nations International Maritime Organization) expressed support for promoting recruitment and opportunities for women in the maritime sector in 2021. In doing so, IMO is contributing to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and supporting work to address current gender inequalities. Among the measures was the establishment of a separate International Day for Women in Maritime.

Safe Horizons

The theme of this year's International Day for Women in Maritime is Safe Horizons: Women in 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 management roles. 
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is actively promoting maritime safety, gender equality and attracting women to the maritime professions within the IMO and otherwise.

"Trade union Nautilus negotiates the terms and conditions of employment and working conditions of seafarers worldwide. Safety is number one in this respect. And the credo 'diversity works' is well known by now. Teams with more women, including in leadership roles, work better. Including when it comes to safety. That's according to Sascha Meijer, vice president of Nautilus in the Netherlands. Nautilus and the ITF (International Transport Workers Federation) are also asking women seafarers to complete surveys about their own safety as part of this IMO day. Link Female seafarers: what does personal safety at sea look like to you? (