Gender at Sea

Amreen Bano, ETO, VVLC

“Human Rights apply at sea as on land”

 Gender Equality Logo
Gender Equality & Non-Discrimination

“Once you put on that white shirt, it’s the rank that speaks not your gender”

Captain Lise Gaarslev Hansen, Maersk Line

The importance of a gender perspective is increasing in recognition, profile and application across the maritime environment.

A focus on Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination as a workplace issue is globally well established including within the maritime sector through the work of the likes of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and many other organisations.

The principles of gender equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in the ILO Constitution and delivered through ILO Conventions, Resolutions adopted by the International Labour Conference, as well as ILO global programmes. These include the likes of the Decent Work Agenda, Country Programmes[1] and the Gender and Non-Discrimination Programme[2].

Geneva Gender Champions logoThe subject of gender equality is further driven by international initiatives such as the International Geneva Gender Champions[3] launched at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, 1 July 2015 and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Programme for the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS) by way of example.

IMO Women at the Helm

The importance of understanding the fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination which leads to understanding gender, gender perspective, gender analysis and aims, and which ultimately integrates gender as an operation strategy is as equally important within civil society as it is in the maritime context, including its application throughout the maritime industries, the maritime supply chain, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and State operations at sea.

Gender should been seen as a core part of maritime Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and it should also reflect a balanced approach to the application of Human Rights protections and remedies at sea.

Maritime Industry Comment

“In the Maersk Group, we believe diversity and inclusion are key levers to strengthen business results in the markets where we operate – and a necessary action for access to future and wider talent pools.”


What is Gender?

Gender is about the learned social attributes, differences and relationships associated with and applied to being either male or female in society.

Gender is not about biological differences between men and women. These are fixed and pre-determined. These differences do not change.

Gender is dynamic. It is subject to change; it is socially learned, constructed and applied within societies and environments.

Gender is influenced by many factors including, but not limited to, economy, age, ethnicity, religion and levels of education for men and women.

Gender should not represent men and women as two homogenous groups. Not all women are the same. Not all men are the same and stereotypical ideas of femininity and masculinity are often entrenched thereby shaping expectations often incorrectly.

Gender varies between and within societies and environments. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between men and women. These inequalities relate to expectations, decision-making opportunities, assigned responsibilities, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources and employment opportunities.

Gender can determine what is expected, allowed and valued in a man or a woman in a given context and environment.

Gender is about the relationships between women, men, girls and boys and how this impacts on individuals and communities in all societies and environments, both social and within the business community.

Gender is not a code word for ‘women’ or ‘discrimination’. A common misconception is that Gender is only relevant for women. This is incorrect. Gender is about women’s and men’s socially described roles and how that affects their power, opportunities and resources.

Gender inequalities apply to men as equally as they do to women. This includes within the maritime environment, howsoever men or women are employed, or otherwise engaged within the maritime supply chain.

Gender equality as a principle should apply throughout the maritime environment, and it should be upheld as a management responsibility and integrated into all institutional structures and work strands.



HRAS Gender Briefing Note     ‘What is Gender’ in One Page

HRAS Gender Briefing Note logo        What is Gender - One Page

Gender Equality at Sea. The story of ETO Amreen Bano. 25 June 2019.

The updated story and case study of Electro Technical Officer, Amreen Bano, an Indian seafarer who is helping to lead the way to increased inclusion and acceptance of women at sea.