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Aisha Buhari expresses desire for more women in maritime sector

FIRST Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajia Aisha Buhari has expressed resolve to see more involvement of females in the nation’s maritime sector.

This was disclosed by the First Lady at the 2019 Seafarers’ Day, tagged “Gender Equality” #iamonboard held in Lagos on Tuesday and organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Recall that only two per cent of the global seafarers are women which represent a very low percentage of women participation in shipping.

Also, Isolation of women, bullying, hostility, gender discrimination, unequal pay, work-life balance, lack of information and sexual harassment are impediments identified for lack of participation of women in shipping.

However, the First Lady, who was represented by the Wife of the vice-president, Dolapo Osinbajo, who led the campaign on women participation in maritime, said the goal was in-line with the Federal Government agenda on job creation and the world by pursued vigorously.

“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 an active role in the maritime industry. This celebration focusing on women’s’ seafarers is therefore apt.”

The wife of the president further lauded NIMASA for the capacity enhancement and training opportunities given to the women under its Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) scheme.

“On this note, I wish to commend the Director-General and the management team of NIMASA for encouraging women to become professional seafarers through its human capacity building initiative – the NSDP which has produced competent women seafarers for the industry.”

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“Mr President is desirous of seeing more women play an active role in the maritime sector and other industries,” she said.

She, however, called on all government agencies especially 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.

Also speaking, the Director-General NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, urged the men to continued support women to have a place of pride in the 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 the maritime sector.

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

According to him, the nation 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 said the Federal Government is committed to having women play full and equal participation in business, politics and all the national life.

He noted that the 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.

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 have spurred 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 a 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.

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