The First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari, has disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to provide platforms that will encourage more women’s participation in maritime to boost economic development. The President’s wife stated this in Lagos at an event to mark the 2019 Day of the Seafarer, with the theme, “On board with gender equality.”
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) chose the theme, which resonates with its theme for this year’s World Maritime Day, to highlight the contributions of women in the maritime industry and encourage more women to go into the profession of sea transportation.
Dr. Buhari said there was need to promote gender balancing in the seafaring career, adding that the President is aware of the economic benefits that come with encouraging the female gender in the maritime sector.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, spoke in a similar vein, saying the men should support women, especially in maritime, “towards reaching their potential and navigating work place challenges.” This was just as President of the World Maritime University (WMU), Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, applauded Nigeria’s effort to encourage more female professionals in the maritime industry.
The First Lady, who was represented by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, commended NIMASA’s efforts to promote and encourage women in the maritime sector. She noted that such was in line with the President’s aspirations for the sector.
According to her, “Under the current leadership of NIMASA, we have seen significant strides aimed at making women active players in the blue economy industry. Mr. President is desirous of seeing more women play active role in the maritime industry. This celebration focusing on women seafarers is, therefore, apt.”
She called on “all government agencies, especially those in the maritime sector, to ensure the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5, which is aimed at attaining gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
The NIMASA DG, speaking further, called on men to provide the needed support for women to participate actively in the maritime sector. “We hope to sensitize the industry operators and players on the significance as well as economic importance of bridging gender inequality and the need for men to support women towards reaching their potential and navigating workplace challenges for us to have more women at sea and onshore, the men have a major role to play in terms of providing the needed support.”
He further added that the Agency will continue to pursue policies and programmes that will accelerate gender equality and empowerment of women in the maritime sector. “In addition to the 304 female cadets we have trained in seafaring since the inception of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), greater attention will now be given to the training of female seafarers in specialized courses and areas to enable them take up professional responsibilities in specialized vessels and offshore operations, and maritime sector generally,” Dakuku said.
On the New Cabotage Compliance Strategy (NCCS) that suspends waivers on Cabotage manning, Dakuku disclosed that placement of women on board vessels will be given high priority, with greater attention also given to providing an enabling environment for female seafarers. He disclosed that the Agency had already recorded success through the NCCS initiative with about 7,000 Nigerians employed by ship-owners between 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. He said the Agency was doing everything in its powers to resolve the issue of armed robbery and piracy at sea.