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Nigeria braces up for more women seafarers

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The Federal Government has assured of producing more female seafarers with a view to exploring their potential in shipping for national development.It stressed the need for collaboration between the private and public sectors to review existing policies that would attract more Nigerian women into the maritime sector.

This was a major resolution at the World Seafarers Day 2019, organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Lagos.Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, who led the campaign on women participation in maritime, said the goal was in line with Federal Government’s agenda on jobs creation and would be pursued vigorously.

Buhari, who was represented by wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, commended NIMASA for the capacity enhancement and training for women under its Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) scheme. “Mr. President is desirous of seeing more women play active roles in the maritime sector and other industries,” she said.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, said there was the need for policy review r to ensure equal representation in the sector.

According to him, the country needs gender friendly policies that would promote training, equal pay, improved welfare and detest discrimination, in other to have more women contribute to the nation’s gross domestic product through the maritime sector.He noted that government is working assiduously to tackle the prevailing security challenges on Nigerian waters, while the anti-piracy bill is currently with the president, awaiting assent.

Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, urged the men to continue to support women to have a place of pride in maritime operations. He stressed the need to eliminate various forms of discrimination against women in terms of employment as well as career progression, and the importance of government to develop policies that lead to equal opportunity and fair treatment of women. He said the agency would continue to pursue policies and programmes that would accelerate gender equality and empowerment of women in maritime sector.

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, said the gender equality is a global phenomenon, but Nigeria is forging ahead to bridge the gap with more favourable policies that would spur their participation in the sector. Usman, who was represented by the Director, Marine and Operations, Sekonte Davies, said: “We must give our citizens irrespective of the gender, their deserved place in growing the national economy.”

She called for more encouragement for girls to study related courses that would enable them to take career in the maritime sector. Usman enjoined other agencies to create a working condition that would encourage women (during and after childbirth), adding that the NPA has increased the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, said the campaign is significant considering the need to fully harness the potential in Nigerian women.

Bello urged for the establishment of private sector national fleet, which would play a major role in employment of women. Facts from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) showed that only two per cent of the global seafarers are women, while issues such as isolation of women, bullying hostility, gender discrimination, unequal pay, work-life balance, lack of information and sexual harassment, among others are responsible for the shortfall.

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