Women seafarers: Global employment policies and practices

Based on a programme of interviews with maritime regulators, lecturers and principals of maritime academies, ship managers and ship owners, trade union officers from 45 organizations and 56 women seafarers in 13 countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America and on a survey of relevant institutions and individuals across the world from 79 organizations and 34 countries, including 371 women sailing aboard 14 cruise ships. Identifies the main issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of women seafarers, examines the practices and policies of employers, trade unions, maritime training and education colleges and national and international regulatory agencies, provides some detail of women seafarers' experiences and recommends measures that may further help the integration of women into shipboard communities.


This landmark book is the first to focus on contemporary women seafarers at a global level. It addresses a host of issues surrounding the working conditions and welfare of women, from both developed and developing countries, employed aboard the world’s merchant and passenger ships. Drawing on extensive research commissioned by the ILO, the book considers women’s participation levels in the industry, and examines policies concerning their recruitment, training, maternity and employment rights, and other aspects of work and life at sea. It also offers first-hand accounts from women seafarers describing how they have dealt with discrimination, sexual harassment, parental disapproval and an array of other difficulties.

Women’s employment in the industry has multiple dimensions, and this book provides the historical background and presents recent findings on female participation rates. The study examines the practices and policies of national and international regulatory agencies, employers, trade unions, and maritime education institutions. A series of recommendations that may further help the integration of women into shipboard communities is included.

Key features:

  • First book of its kind to focus on women seafarers at a global level
  • Contains useful appendices for cross-referencing with the text
  • Covers women’s employment in both developing and developed countries
  • Offers details of actual experiences of women seafarers
  • Focuses on policies regarding recruitment, training, maternity leave