Human Rights at Sea this week published a case study by Advisory Board member and maritime professional, Joanne Rawley, providing a personal insight and commentary as a reality check to the issue of diversity and inclusion in the shipping industry.

Here is what Joanne has to say:

Dear Editor,

Passionate individuals and groups committed to making a substantial difference to Seafarers are not sufficiently addressing the root issue of Gender Discrimination and Harassment which is, sadly, still commonplace at sea.

I believed that unless a spotlight was shone on it, and such unacceptable behaviour is stamped out, none of the other industry initiatives could truly be successful. So, instead of waiting for someone else to stand up, I thought why shouldn’t I?

As an industry, we are trying to correct the gender imbalance by highlighting the possibility of a successful career at sea for women, which I truly believe can be realised, and actively encouraging their recruitment.
However, research is also underway to explore the reasoning that many women leave as well as continuing to fight for implementation of maternity leave policy and improved sanitary health.

The IMO #iamonboard campaign was inspiring but long overdue. It gave me a feeling of hope for the future but, two years later, I have yet to experience that positive reassurance that everyone really is ‘on board’.

Reaching out to connections in the industry, to discuss harassment and abuse the majority replied with, “well what did you expect working at sea with a load of men?” and that is when I realised that attitudes have not changed significantly where it matters most – at sea.

Keeping the abuse hidden, like a shameful dirty little secret only perpetuates the cycle. is a prime yet painful example of what is happening out there and on White list flagged vessels that have ratified MLC.

How can we encourage people to open up about mental health (to remove stigma; #timetotalk) if seafarers are too afraid to speak out about the abuse they are enduring. There needs to be an emphasis on compassion and tolerance onboard; an emphasis on teamwork and unity; an emphasis on integrity and accountability.

Ignorance and looking the other way are no longer acceptable excuses for doing nothing to support your crew.

Please click here to download and read the full case study: Diversity & Inclusion. A Maritime Professional’s Reality Check in 2021

Yours Sincerely,


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