Press Release

8 February 2021

We are All someone’s Daughter. We chose to be Seafarers.

London. UK. Human Rights at Sea today publishes 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.

Joanne highlights that: “Passionate individuals and groups committed to making a substantial difference to Seafarers are not sufficiently addressing the root issue of Gender Discrimination and Harrassment 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, 2 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 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 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.”

Diversity & Inclusion. A Maritime Professional’s Reality Check in 2021. 8 February 2021.


Human Rights at Sea started looking to spotlight diversity and inclusion in 2015 with its initial proposal under the headline ‘Gender at Sea‘, though at the time there was little appetite to discuss or support the issue in-sector. An early 2015 HRAS briefing note was published, followed by the case study of Electro Technical Officer, Amreen Bano, an Indian seafarer who is herself helping to lead the way to increased inclusion and acceptance of women at sea.

2015 – Gender Briefing Note
Gender Equality at Sea. The story of ETO Amreen Bano. 25 June 2019.