Women at Sea – a perspective from Malaysia

January 28, 2019
Ikmal Article Jan 2019 Co Fatin Amirah Of Misc Bhd 1
C/O Fatin Amirah, of MISC Bhd

During November’s ISWAN Seminar in Helsinki, the Association of Malaysia’s Maritime Professionals (IKMAL), which is a member of ISWAN, presented a brief on the encouragement given to women to become seafarers in Malaysia.

Capt. Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, Secretary General of IKMAL, reported that in 2007, 11 female cadets were recruited into the Akademi Laut Malaysia (ALAM - the Malaysian Maritime Academy). By 2018, three of this pioneer group had attained the rank of Chief Officer on LNG vessels. In response to the request of ISWAN for news of how women seafarers are progressing around the world, in November 2018 IKMAL organised a ‘Sharing Session’ and invited C/O Fatin Amirah to narrate her experiences as a woman seafarer – the positive and the negative – to an audience of maritime professionals.

Her presentation outlined the challenges of being a woman seafarer, which were broadly similar to those outlined in the briefing note to ISWAN members. IKMAL also engaged the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA), a government-funded maritime research agency, to collate details on issues faced by women seafarers in Malaysia and points were indicated:

  • Cultural and religious obstacles, especially for Muslim women seafarers
  • Unchartered territory once they get married
  • Definite career progression still needs to be mapped out for women seafarers
  • Economic downturn caused ALL (male & female) seafarers to experience difficulty getting placements on board vessels – in such a scenario, women tend to lose out

MIMA and IKMAL looked at potential solutions to these issues and the following suggestions were made to help resolve some of the challenges:

  • Government to be engaged in propagating recruitment of women seafarers
  • Financial incentives to be offered to shipping companies adhering to the policy of recruiting women seafarers
  • Harnessing current women seafarers as Mentors for potential recruits
  • Highlighting the success stories of existing women seafarers
  • Planning a strategy to permit women seafarers to continue rising up the career ladder
  • MyWIMA to play an active role in promoting a career at sea to women in Malaysia

MyWIMA – the ‘Women in Maritime Association, Malaysia’ – was established in December 2017. It currently has 23 members and a membership drive is underway. The President of MyWIMA is Dr Yasmin binti Mohd Hasni, and she is also a Council Member of IKMAL.

More information on IKMAL can be found at: / /

C/O Fatin Amirah, of MISC Bhd
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