Women seafarer health survey results

Nautilus members supported the global womens' health survey

New research — conducted with support from Nautilus members — has identified key problems affecting the health and wellbeing of women seafarers.

The results, reported in the September Telegraph, show that the Union and the ITF’s campaigning work is helping to turn the tide on harassment at sea. The findings form part of a larger survey looking at the specific health concerns of women working at sea, and the results mirror those of their male counterparts — with back and joint pain, and stress being the most commonly reported health concerns — as well as highlighting common barriers to women accessing healthcare.

Questions in the survey relating to the availability of feminine hygiene products and their disposal, showed however, how the maritime industry is still a long way behind other sectors. The researchers said factors that would improve the issues of access to healthcare included being able to see a doctor while on duty, the availability of doctors of both genders, easier access to a shoreside specialist if the onboard doctor can not help, and job security.

The research found that relatively simple and low cost interventions could be made to improve women seafarers’ health and welfare. These included gender-specific publications on back pain, mental health and nutrition — as well as gynaecological complaints, the introduction of sanitary waste for all female crew on all ships, and improved availability of female-specific items, such as sanitary products, in port shops and welfare centres. 

The survey was a joint initiative by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), and the Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS).

Union officials and medical experts in the field will meet later this month to discuss the results and ways in which the recommendations for action can be taken forward collaboratively within the maritime industry, to improve provisions for women seafarers.

Friday, September 04, 2015