About Us

About Us

The International Women Seafarers Foundation is a Not-for_profit Trust registered under Mumbai Public Trust Act (1950). The organization was founded in 2017 by three pioneering women seafarers of India, Capt Radhika Menon, Ch. Engineer Suneeti Bala and Ms Sharvani Mishra. As the name suggests, IWSF works for the benefit of the women seafaring community around the world to bring about gender equality in maritime profession. We currently have over 300 women seafarer members from India, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Oman and are expanding with each passing day.

In order to achieve this prime goal, IWSF partners with administrators, maritime unions, ship owners, ship managers and several maritime representative bodies to provide training, education, guidance, mentoring, policy and execution support at various levels. Further, IWSF also conducts surveys and researches to understand the effectiveness of current policies in providing gender neutral environment on-board.

A woman is faced with numerous social challenges in their pursuit of a sailing career. Young girls, more often than not, when faced with unusual circumstances, are unable to take the right steps at right time, leading to complications for peers and companies employing them. IWSF members strive every day support all ladies who have chosen this challenging profession.

Our Work

In its quest for promoting and supporting women seafarers, so far IWSF has achieved following milestones in its 3 years of existance:

  • Employed over 60 women seafarers and continuously seeks to improve employment of women seafarers, both on-board and ashore. We are a single point contact for ship managers and shipping companies seeking to create equal opportunity through hiring women seafarers/ shore personnel.
  • Have mentored, supported, guided and provided assistance in fighting against sexual harassment cases to over 25 women seafarers. We are committed to keeping the privacy of the companies and women seafarers in serious sexual harassment cases.
  • We have successfully conducted Maritime Awareness campaign (with particular attention to raising awareness about presence of women in merchant navy) in close to 30 schools / under-privileged institutions/ shelter homes/ orphanages with over 2000 students and have partnered with Face of Shipping for Adopt A Ship Program in India. The program was launched in 6 schools last year before COVID 19 put a break on its progress. At present, the program is being run in online mode with orphanages.
  • We are a part of ISWAN’s ‘Special Purpose Group, DG’s ‘Maritime Vision’ and several other maritime groups.
  • IWSF conducted safety awareness campaign for fishermen along the South Indian coast jointly with Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) the campaign aimed at making fishermen aware of navigation aids available to them, and rules they must follow while manoeuvring around bigger vessels in transit.
  • IWSF worked jointly with DG and special committee to prepare DG Notice 7 of 2019, the first ever guidelines for employment of women seafarers of India. The guidelines came as a follow-up of IWSF annual seminar2018 during which IWSF had launched its draft guideline for women seafarer employment.
  • IWSF has recently launched a you-tube channel to educate common mass about how to enter this very challenging and rewarding career in merchant navy. Links for the videos can be found in our publication page under resources.  
  • IWSF regularly shares information and conducts seminars to bring to limelight pressing issues related to women seafarers. We continuously liaise with organizations for opening discussions on challenges faced in hiring women seafarers and work together with them to find solutions.


To become voice of all lady seafarers to ensure a gender diverse working environment on board ships.


To promote and support lady seafarers and help them overcome their all existing and future challenges.


  • Support and Guide fellow seafarers and sailing women, understand challenges on board ships and learn to take right steps at right time.
  • Guide and mentor young women seafarers embracing the shipping career during their adventurous journey in the maritime sector.
  • Assist Companies bridge policy gaps for women seafarers on board and create awareness.
  • Assist Government and Institutions in promoting education and policies related to women.
  • Promote and assist government in their mission and focus on empowerment of women.
  • Assist government and policy makers formulating rules & regulations to the views of women seafarers and work against gender discrimination, if any.
  • Increase visibility and presence of Women Seafarers in the Maritime sector.


  • To work towards protecting rights of women seafarers and promote their fair treatment onboard ships.
  • To raise awareness in the society about women in seafaring profession, aid and assist activities to encourage women participation in shipping.
  • To provide appropriate Gender sensitization training on a sustained and evolving basis.
  • To provide placement support, assistance and moral counselling to women seafarers for sailing career.