ECSA-ETF: EU shipping needs to attract and retain more women

08 Mar 2021

The European social partners for Maritime Transport, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), continue to advocate the enhanced participation of women in European shipping. On International Women’s Day, they are launching a survey that will help them determine the current state of women’s employment in the sector and assess women seafarers’ needs, a first step of an EU-funded project to increase women’s participation in the shipping industry.


The UN Women theme this year is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The pandemic has confirmed that women are on the front line of ensuring the undisturbed flow of global trade and playing crucial roles in shaping an equal future of recovery and prosperity.

ECSA and ETF issued a joint declaration of intention to enhance participation of women in European Shipping in November 2018. Both have joined the European Commission’s “Women in Transport – EU platform for change” initiative to strengthen women's employment in the transport sector.

Social partners have turned their commitments to action with a joint EU co-funded WESS project that aims to contribute to an Attractive, Smart and Sustainable Working Environment in the EU shipping sector and will support the work towards job creation, growth and the sector’s competitiveness – particularly important as the sector seeks to recover from the effects of Covid-19 – by attracting and retaining more women both ashore and at sea.

“We see more shipping companies understanding that diversity is a tool for increased competitiveness. Shipping is by tradition a male industry and it´s time to change that. The contribution that more women can bring to the shipping labour force, both at sea and ashore, is plentiful. Active engagement by both men and women and getting the message out through ambassadors and champions, is the strongest method of promoting the industry to other women.

In my company, Stena, for example, gender equality is a key sustainability priority. The shipping industry needs to become more diverse, inclusive, resilient and digital and it needs to happen now”, said Claes Berglund, ECSA President and Director of Public Affairs and Sustainability at Stena.

“There are many initiatives under way to enhance the participation of women in the shipping industry. ECSA is proud to be leading work at EU level together with our social partner ETF and I am honoured to be championing the promotion of the need for fairness, equality and inclusion which will lead to enhanced participation of women in shipping,” concluded Mr Berglund.

“International Women's Day provides a global opportunity to recognise the work of women in our economy and our lives. As a global industry, shipping is crucial in ensuring the respect of the rights of women – it is our duty to demonstrate the vital roles of women and the urgent need to create working environments where they can thrive,” added Debbie Cavaldoro, head of policy and strategy at Nautilus International and ETF lead on the project WESS project.

“The EFT is proud to be working alongside ECSA to ensure that the voices of women seafarers and women in maritime are at the heart of projects to support the recruitment and retention of more women into maritime”, she continued.

“It has been proven time and again that a diverse workplace is beneficial for all and this is as important for a team onboard a vessel as it is for any other office-based team”, concluded Debbie Cavaldoro.


For more information, please contact:

Rosella Marasco ( or

Penny Serveta ( or

Estelle Brentnall (



About ECSA
The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) was founded in 1965 and represents the national shipowners’ associations of the EU, the UK and Norway. The European shipowners control 39.5% of the global commercial fleet, contribute 149 billion to the EU GDP and provide 2 million Europeans with careers both on board and ashore. ECSA promotes the interests of European shipping so that the industry can best serve European and international trade in a competitive free business environment to the benefit of shippers and consumers.

About ETF
The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Central and Eastern Europe. The ETF represents more than 5 million transport workers from more than 200 transport unions and 41 European countries.