Twelve women from across Africa have completed the International Maritime Rescue Federation’s basic maritime search and rescue training

As part of its ongoing #WomenInSAR initiative and supporting the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) theme of empowering women, the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has held its first all-women maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) training in Morocco.

The training was supported by the IMO and took place over three days (13-15 November 2019), covering basic knowledge, a practical exercise and best practice training to enable the women to successfully manage rescue missions in their home countries in the future.

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF says: “This course is part of our ongoing initiative to support and encourage #WomenInSAR wherever they are in the world.  Launched earlier this year to echo the the IMO’s theme for the year of empowering women, for too long, too many roles have been seen as ‘men’s roles’ but reality is very different.

All around the world there are women across the maritime SAR sector, from the teenager playing a vital role in a lifeboat crew, to the female CEO planning, resourcing and delivering a nationwide maritime SAR service, offering real examples of exceptionally brave and highly skilled women in pivotal roles.  I am sure that all of the women who attended this course will in time inspire many others around them as their skills and leadership develop.

The course included classroom-based learning, a practical exercise on a rescue boat and a visit to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rabat to understand operational coordination, the SAR hierarchy and different duties. 

It also covered all the duties and responsibilities of a Search and Rescue SAR Coordinator as defined by the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR), Volume I.

The training seeks to address gender imbalance in maritime SAR.  In many countries around the world, search and rescue is often still perceived to be a male task, but in fact there are many women in key roles, proving that their gender need not be a barrier to their skills, expertise and success.

Twelve women attended the course representing SAR organisations from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, Seychelles, Senegal and Morocco.  

It is hoped that in time, they might mentor and encourage other women to become maritime SAR professionals.

All the attendees have been presented with a certificate to mark their successful completion of the course and will join the IMRF’s #WomenInSAR network, which offers opportunities to share experience, ask questions and build a network of other women in similar situations around the world.