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Of IMO-WISTA ‘Women In Maritime Survey 2021’: FOMI Saw Tomorrow, Thinks 5 Yrs Ahead

Of IMO-WISTA ‘Women In Maritime Survey 2021’: FOMI Saw Tomorrow, Thinks 5 Yrs Ahead

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Recently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in collaboration with Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International)  launched for the very first time, what they called ‘ Women in Maritime Survey 2021’. 

The survey which was launched in February 2021 aims to examine the proportion and distribution of women working in the maritime sector, from support roles to executive level positions.

The survey is part of a series of activities aimed at laying the groundwork for further discussions on how to build a more diverse workforce within the maritime sector, essential for a sustainable future. The data obtained by the survey will help build a picture of diversity and gender equality in the industry. 

Mrs Okonji of NIMASA, distributing souvenirs to the schiool girls during one of the GGOTSEC programs

The launch of the study follows the 2020 signing of the IMO-WISTA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on promoting greater diversity and inclusion through enhanced cooperation activities in the maritime sector.

The MoU aims to set a framework for both IMO and WISTA to promote gender diversity and inclusion as vital factors in providing a sustainable future for the shipping industry worldwide. 

Mr Sylvanus Obasi, Director of FOMI & GGOTSEC addressing school girls during the GGOTSEC program in Lagos.

Speaking about the IMO/WISTA Int’l Women in Maritime Survey 2021, the  IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim said:  ”Diversity in maritime matters. Empowering women fuels thriving economies across the world, spurs growth and development, and benefits everyone working in the global maritime community and beyond. 

“We need solid data on female participation, as this will enable us to track and quantify our ambitions in what has traditionally been a male-dominated sector. I am pleased to invite all Member States and maritime stakeholders to take part in this important survey”. 

Also highlighting the importance of the Survey, the President of WISTA International, Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou said, ”Having comparable data is a key component when creating programmes and proposing policies that will increase the participation of women in maritime. It is an essential step forward in creating a more diverse and inclusive environment in our sector. With our global reach we can amplify the strength of this survey to show real results and back our drive towards an inclusive maritime sector.”  

Well, what’s interesting here is that Face Of Maritime International (FOMI) saw the future five years ago, and also thinks 5 years ahead of the world’s apex maritime Organization and it’s collaborator, the WISTA International. 

Logo of Platform Reporters, organisers of FOMI and promoters of GGOTSEC

This is because the ‘Women in Maritime Survey’ which IMO & WISTA international is just launching in February 2021, Platform Reporters, the organisers of Face Of Maritime International (FOMI) conducted and concluded in February-April in 2016, exactly 5 years ago. 

Towards the end of 2015, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) released its 2015 research report which showed that only 2% of the world’s maritime workforce is made up of women. 

When we (Platform Reporters) got hold of that report,  in 2016, we decided to organise a similar study to ascertain the proportion of women in core maritime professions in Nigeria. 

FOMI logo

The result of our Survey showed as follows: 

NSDP BENEFICIARIES:                                  2,259  Male    1909          Female   350
2. CLASS ONE MARINE ENGINEERS:             200    Male    200            Female    0
3. MASTER MARINERS:                                      350    Male    349            Female    1
4. OCEANOGRAPHERS:                                      75      Male    60              Female   15

5. MARITIME LAWYERS:                                  200     Male    140            Female   60
8. TRANSPORT/MARITIME PROFESSORS   25        Male    23              Female    2
9. TRANSPORT/MARITIME PHD HOLDERS 45       Male    40              Female    5
10. FREIGHT FORWARDERS:                          1331   Male    1227           Female    104
11.  CREWING AGENTS:                                    100     Male    99               Female    1

The result above, presented an urgent need to encourage more Nigerian girls to take career opportunities in the maritime industry so as to ensure equal participation of women in core maritime professions, especially in line with global trend which shows that women are doing well both in professional, management and political positions.

What do we do?  How do we lead this campaign? Knowing that the psychology of most girls in this 21st century connects easily with entertainment, fashion, beauty and style, pageantry came to mind. So Platform Reporters organized the maiden Face Of Maritime International (FOMI 2016), which WISTA Nigeria led by Mary Hamman was our Endorsement partner then. 

Queen Greatst-Love Uwadiale with MD of NPA during Girls -Go-To-Sea campaign at Ikoyi in 2017

The sole aim of FOMI then was to raise three winners (queens) who will champion a campaign that will create awareness and raise the consciousness of Nigerian girls about taking career opportunities in the maritime industry by encouraging girls to study maritime – related courses at the tertiary education level.

So after the Grand Finale of the maiden Face Of Maritime International (FOMI 2016), held at Rockview Hotels Apapa on Dec 11, 2016, Miss Greatest-Love Uwadiale won the 2016 FOMI crown. While Miss Ologunwa Oyinkansola and Miss Peace Chisom Michael won the first and second runners up respectively.

Barr Obiageli Obi addressing the school girls during one of the GGOTSEC programs in Lagos.

To meet up with the responsibilities of their one year reign, and in line with the original intent of Face Of Maritime International, FOMI Management conceptualised and unveiled GGOTSEC (Girls – Go – To – Sea Campaign) as the official pet project of the FOMI Queens. And today, the rest is history!

There’s no doubts that Girls Go-To-Sea Campaign (GGOTSEC) is a conception of Face Of Maritime International, and Face Of Maritime International is Platform Reporters’ response to an urgent need to ensure gender parity in a male-dominated maritime work environment. 

As we wait for IMO and WISTA International to conclude their study and probably come up with action plans on how to deal with the gender imbalance which the survey is likely to reveal, one will be proud to say that Nigeria and indeed FOMI is some steps ahead of the world’s apex maritime regulatory body, IMO and its women advocacy group, WISTA International on data-based gender advocacy campaign.

Group pictures with some students during the GGOTSEC program at Alimoso, Lagos.

This is because, while it may take this year and next for IMO & WISTA to conclude their Survey and roll out a data-based gender advocacy programmes, Nigeria through FOMI will be rolling out the number of women/girls who have taken to the sea as a result of our own data-based gender advocacy program, called Girls Go-To-Sea Campaign (GGOTSEC) started 5 years ago. 

So this is something Nigeria should be proud of because it can be likened to the Biblical Bethlehem where when people heard a prophecy saying that the Messiah shall be born in Bethlehem, they querried it asking, Can something good come out of Bethlehem? 

2018 contestants of FOMI

Despite Nigeria’s poor runs in some global maritime issues, we can proudly say that Face Of Maritime International (FOMI) and Girls Go-To-Sea Campaign (GGOTSEC), are two initiatives we  have bequeathed to the maritime world when it comes to gender advocacy in maritime. There’s no FOMI or GGOTSEC anywhere in all maritime nations of the world except in Nigeria. So IMO and WISTA International can take a cue from Nigeria. 

For more details or enquiries about FOMI or GGOTSEC, call: +2348146289698 or email: faceofmaritime@gmail.com

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