In response to growing concerns about the global gender imbalance in the maritime industry, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has moved to redress the situation through deliberate steps designed to accommodate women. The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who disclosed this at the weekend, said the Agency was set to do more in collaboration with stakeholders.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) made gender equality the focus of this year’s Day of the Seafarer, marked June 25, with the campaign theme, “On board with gender equality,” echoing the 2019 World Maritime Day theme, “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.”
IMO said the emphasis on women empowerment this year was meant to draw international attention to an awful inequality in the maritime sector, where women constitute only two per cent of the total seafaring population.
The First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari, who chaired the Day of the Seafarer celebrations in Nigeria hosted in Lagos by NIMASA, also expressed worry about the poor worldwide figures of women in maritime. But she disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to provide platforms that will encourage more women’s participation in the sector to boost economic development.
However, Dakuku said NIMASA was taking steps to remedy the unfair maritime workforce statistics. In contrast to the worldwide record of two per cent women seafarers, he said, Nigeria posts somewhat better statistics.
The DG disclosed that out of the 6,039 seafarers on the Nigerian seafarers’ register, 567 or 9.3 per cent were females. Also, data from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, shows that 26 of the total 250 students in the school are females, representing 10.4 per cent, he stated.
He added that while 304 of the 2,041, representing 14.9 per cent, beneficiaries of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) were females, 32, representing 13.4 per cent, of the 239 cadets currently enjoying sea time training sponsored by NIMASA were females, and the Agency was committed to continuous improvement in the above global standards.
“We have since moved to redress the imbalance in the sector by adopting deliberate policies tailored towards bringing in more women to the maritime industry, particularly, the seafaring profession, in response to the global concerns and in tandem with the IMO theme for the year,” Dakuku stated.
He added, “We are in concert with the President Muhammadu Buhari government in its Next Level initiative, which aims at ensuring an all-inclusive development.
“The maritime sector is a key industry and we cannot afford to exclude the women, who make up about 50 per cent of our population, in activities within the all-important industry.
“So we shall be engaging stakeholders in the sector to design measures and modalities for the engagement of more women in shipping activities and other areas within the maritime workforce.”
Dakuku stated that the reform agenda being implemented by the current management of the Agency was consciously designed to make the work environment conducive for all genders.
The Dakuku-led management’s reform initiative is anchored on the following pillars: survey, inspection and certification transformation programme; environment, security, emergency search and rescue transformation initiative; digital strategy reforms; capacity building and promotional initiatives; and structural and cultural reforms initiatives.