Women’s growing interest in traditionally male seafaring professions

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Women attending a knowledge-sharing session given by female seafarers with experience of working onboard cruise ships.

Recently, many women have shown interest in seafaring jobs that were once reserved for men, according to Captain Soe Min Aung, chairman of the Myanmar Seafarers Federation (MSF).

Most of these women work in catering, kitchen and room services on board.

“Most of the people from the ordinary class cannot afford to go abroad or attend school in a foreign country. So, they just go abroad as common workers. Then, many women turn to seafaring. They work on passenger ships. As this opportunity is open, many of them rush to it. They become interested in such jobs,” he said.

There are now about 700 women sailors who have attended seafarer training courses and obtained passports.

“Since after 1988, when almost everyone could apply for a passport, they have been working on passenger ocean liners. But, they went abroad to work as hotel staff. According to a 2006 International Labour Organization’s provision, all people working on ships must be seafarers. Those who work on a cruise ship under a hotel must also be seafarers. When they went as hotel staff, such as waitresses, housewives, cleaners and  receptionists, there were no problems. But, to become a sailor, there are some requirements. So, these women will have to go through all trainings related to seafarers and obtain a  seafarer ID. After that, they can apply for passports. So far, there are about 700 women sailors,” he said.


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