More women may be attracted to various sections of the maritime industry, including seafaring, going by promises made by leaders of government agencies and professional groups at the 2019 edition of the International Maritime Organisation’s annual Day of the Seafarer held recently in Lagos.
Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, led the campaign for more women participation in seafaring and other maritime professions as she urged relevant agencies to review their policies accordingly.
She stressed that their active participation would speed up the development of the sector and the nation’s economy.
Also, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr Dakuku Peterside, highlighted a number steps the agency was taking to make women active players in the industry.
In the same vein, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, advised women to take up career in shipping and allied professions.
The President’s wife, represented at the event by the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, described women as great managers of ideas, human and material resources.
She said, “Mr President is desirous of seeing more women in the industry and this year’s celebration, focusing on women seafarers is therefore apt. It will be on the development on a wider range seeing agencies play pivotal role in leading the pack in the new direction of gender equality in maritime career of the girl child.
“Let me stress that it is important to educate the girl child on opportunities in taking up career in the sector and the derivable benefits there, while dissuading them from the notion that it is men’s job.”
In his address at the event, Peterside said NIMASA had been gender sensitive, explaining that more Nigerian girls had benefited from its cadet training.
He said, “The agency will continue to pursue policies that will accelerate gender equality and empowerment of women in the maritime sector. In addition to the 304 female cadets we have trained since the inception of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme, special attention will now be given to the training of female seafarers in specialised courses to enable them to take up professional responsibilities.”
On the theme ‘On board with gender equality’, Peterside stated that the international shipping community recognised that women, if encouraged, could positively alter the equilibrium of macro economy.
The President, World Maritime University, Malmo, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, said women participation in shipping and maritime industry remained critical, lamenting that efforts to actualise this had been abysmally low.
Bala-Usman noted that more women in shipping would boost productivity, by not only empowering them but also encouraging the men to work harder.
The NPA MD quoted a report of the International Maritime Organisation that highlighted that despite education, enhanced technology and enlightenment, women participation in the shipping sector was still abysmally low.
“The International Maritime Organisation encourages it; Nigerian government encourages it; the ports authority encourages it; the LTT/HPI encourages it; and even men have seen that if they have women amongst them, they can work harder because they also feel more relaxed,” she added.
The General Manager, LTT Coastal & Marine Services, Kalusky Hilik, who dismissed the notion by some women that the shipping industry was a no-go area for females, stressed that the women folk had a major role to play in the development of sector.