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International Women Seafarers​ Foundation 

First Ever Initiative for Women Seafarers I​n India​

International Women Seafarers​ Foundation Launched for smooth sailing of Women Seafarers

  • The Foundation will promote and support women to opt Sailing career and will raise awareness among shipping fraternity about women in seafaring profession

by Suman Gupta

Mumbai, 3rd Nov, 2017: The International Women Seafarers Foundation (IWSF) trust, was launched today at Mumbai by the Indian women seafarers with honorable DG Shipping as Chief Guest and in presence of stalwarts of the shipping industry. Dr Mrs Sujata Tolani (Owner Tolani Shipping Ltd), Capt Ashok Mohapatra (Director of Safety Council, IMO) and and Mr Pradeep Rawat (Chairman, National Shipping Board) graced the occasion as the guest of honour.

The IWSF visions to promote and support women seafarers in their sailing profession. The foundation aims to assist companies’ in bridging policy gaps for women seafarers on board and help government and institutions in promoting education and policies related to women at sea. It will also work to raise awareness in the society about women in seafaring profession and assist in conducting activities that will encourage women participation in shipping. While sharing her views with press, Ms Suneeti Bala, one of the three founding members said “Sailing women being negligible in number, have been affected by gaps in policies, procedures and general social understanding of co-existence in the confined working environment of ships. These aspects discourage aspiring women and shipping companies equally in improving female seafarer numbers over the years. In order to overcome these barriers, companies and individuals may be imparted guidance on multiple fronts by way of training, policy formulation, awareness camps, assistance and much more. “

Women’s contribution to seafaring is mere 2% worldwide, amongst 1.25 million Seafarers working on 85,000 ships. The founders asserted that the efforts of IWSF would assist in balancing the much needed gender diversity on board ships. “We seek the blessings, guidance and support of shipping industry stalwarts and maritime community to achieve these objectives collectively” were the words of Capt Radhika Menon, the first Indian lady officer on board merchant ships and one of the other founding members of IWSF.

“We seek a platform of equal opportunities and employment only based on Competency “ says the Third founding member Ms Sharvani Mishra .

Guest of honor Dr. Sujata Tolani, Chairperson of Tolani Shipping Said, “Congratulations to our empowered women (seafarers) who are launching International Women Seafarer Foundation (IWSF). In a world today where lady seafarers are commanding respect by virtue of their capabilities, I envision IWSF as a stepping stone to a time in which no eyebrows are raised when a daughter expresses her desire to choose seafaring as a career; to a classroom in which the girl cadets do not stand out in a classroom full of boys; to a workplace in which the male seafarer has the ability to work side by side with a female seafarer without gender becoming an issue; and finally to a society which gracefully accepts that a lady seafarer can be as competent if not more than her male counterpart and gives her the space to excel in her profession just like it has done in the medical field, the banking industry and all the other various industries. I wish IWSF all the best.”

It is very important for women seafarers to get moral counseling to prepare for sailing career and a good training can prepare them well for this profession. Also the policies for women at sea need to be implemented properly and IWSF consider this as there mission to fulfill all these aspects.

Dr. Malini V. Shankar, IAS, Director General of Shipping and special secretory to Government of India graced the event and Ms. Sujata Naik Tolani, Chairperson, Tolani Shipping was guest of Honour. While appreciating this initiative by IWSF Dr. Malini said, “Women play a very important role in every aspect of life.  God has gifted women with a natural ability of setting things right, wherever they lay their mind and heart.  Shipping is a field where acceptance of women is seeping in rather slowly.  I am glad that women seafarers have come together formally to address issues concerning them.  The vast and unique practical experience and knowledge they bring in through IWSF is certain to help the industry immensely and encourage interested women to participate actively in maritime industry”.

A sailing career is highly rewarding and satsfying profession and opens a plethora of opportunities for future growth ashore. But, the question is would anyone consider their daughter to choose seafaring as a profession? At IWSF it’s our mission to make all those answers YES.

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