Message of support at the Mobilizing Networks for Gender Equality, International Day for Women in Maritime 2023

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Mobilizing Networks for Gender Equality, International Day for Women in Maritime 2023, 18 May 2023, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 18 May 2023
  • Secretary Ople of the Department of Migrant Workers;
  • Executive Director Macadawan of the National Maritime Polytechnic;
  • Distinguished representatives from shipping companies, manning agencies, maritime associations;
  • Partners from the government, workers and employers organizations;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [Good morning to all of you]
I am pleased to speak at this forum on Mobilizing Networks for Gender Equality as part of the International Day for Women in Maritime.

Let me congratulate the Philippine government for spearheading and gathering stakeholders to recognize women in the maritime sector.

This forum is significant as it aims to mainstream gender and development to empower women in the maritime sector.

Prior to this, Secretary Ople’s initiative on behalf of the Philippine government facilitated dialogue with ILO, IMO and other maritime stakeholders. This led to the European Commission’s extended recognition of the country’s seafarers training and certification system. Without this, EU-flagged vessels may bar 50,000 Filipino seafarers.

There are indeed many challenges in the sector, even more for women seafarers.

An ILO study revealed that women seafarers, a minority in the sector, often face tough working conditions, including discrimination and sexual harassment.

Women seafarers make up only two per cent of about 1.6 million male-dominated seafaring industry, thus, policymakers and opinion-makers have paid little attention to their potential.

Filipinos account for a quarter of the world’s seafarers. However, only two per cent of more than 400,000 seafarers deployed annually are women.

Most of these women seafarers are in the services and domestic sectors, which are highly gendered. They are among the lowest paid in the seafaring industry and most vulnerable to redundancy.

However, the contribution of women seafarers is essential. Several years ago, the ILO featured Captain Jasmin Labarda. She leads seafarers and engineers as one the few female ship captains in the world. The first Filipina to hold a senior position in the industry.

Thus, gender equality is at the heart of advancing social justice and promoting decent work for all.

The ILO’s Constitution, mandate and international labour standards promote equal opportunities in the world of work.

These included ILO Conventions on:ILO Conventions Numbers 100 and 111 are considered fundamental rights at work.

In addition, the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) and the Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (No. 206), were adopted to end violence and harassment at work.

Despite positive developments like the country’s ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 challenges remain.

The COVID-19 pandemic, economic crises, and political changes have plagued the maritime sector in recent years. Within the industry, there were concerns on qualifications and skills training.

Addressing these issues is crucial, but recognizing the challenges women seafarers face will require a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach.

The Philippines is heading that direction with government agencies and industry leaders present here today. We count on your support!

Finally, the ILO hopes that the Manifesto of Commitment leads will result in actions to improve the plight of women seafarers and promote decent work in the maritime sector, leaving no one behind.

Thank you.