Blog of the week by Eva Lianne Berger- Veldkamp
This picture of me and my dad was taken when I presented my graduate specialization at my maritime university. After my graduation, I had a magnificent and adventurous working experience, sailing containervessels around the globe.
My father is really proud of me, he and my mom made sure I grew up to be a confident woman. During my traineeship, my dad visited the vessel I was working on and had a talk with the captain.
Years later, I met this same captain again and he asked me about my dad. I replied surpised: “Huh? Why do you care? You don’t even know him”.
“Well because the man impressed me and thought me a valuable lesson”, the captain answered.
He told me that during his first visit on board, my father looked him straight in the eye and told him that, as his daughter was a trainee on his ship, the Captain now carried the responsibility over her. “You, as a Captain, have to make sure she feels safe on your ship”.
On a vessel with about 30 adult men working for months on end without seeing their wives or any other women, you can imagine where he was aiming at.
Of course, I was very happy to find out that my dad protected me like that. I was equally happy not being aware of this conversation. I always felt safe on board, just doing my job: in my twenties, conquering the seas and gaining working experience as an engineroom- and deckcadet.
Never was I harrassed on board. Never have I felt uncomfortable around my male colleagues. Not even in the locker room, where everyone is in their underwear changing boiler-suits. Not even when we drank one-too-many beers after a long and exhausting day of engine room emergency repairs, having laughs about silly stuff.
Colleagues all felt like they were my uncles or nephews, treating me like any other crew member on board.
They were officers and gentlemen. Normal people.
When you work on a ship, safety is very important. If the ship is not safe, the crew is not safe. And it’s the same the other way around. The first company I worked for, invested a lot in creating a healthy working environment for everyone. And the story of my dad and the captain underlines that.
People are the key to change, we can all take responsibility in keeping each other safe.
Am I an exception? Many of my female colleagues unfortunately had entirely different experiences. They were harassed, abused and sometime even molested. They were not seen as valuable co-workers. But as easy targets.
Many of them decided to no longer keep silent and wrote down their experiences. Please read the stories shared by these brave women.
And find out why it is important to treat the women on board the same as you would treat your own daughter. Take a lesson from my dad.
So why can’t everyone do their work safe and sound? Maybe because you reap what you sow. If you give people trust, enough rest and proper working conditions you will get loyal, pro-active, responsible and kind mariners.
At least, that is my experience.
I believe ships can be a nice place to work at. For everyone who wants a magnificent and adventurous working experience at sea.
What do you think?This blog is shared by courtesy of Eva Lianne Berger-Veldkamp, Maritime Ambassador, Maritime Content Manager and Maritime Columnist.