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Stakeholders seek visibility, recognition for women in Nigeria’s maritime industry as CIoTA hosts IMO Intl’ Day for Women in Maritime

Women in the maritime industry should be granted opportunities for visibility and recognition, stakeholders demanded at the inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime initiated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

National Publicity Secretary of CIoTA, Chizoba Anyika

Theme for the inaugural IMO International Day for Women in Maritime, which took place virtually on 18th May, was “Training, Visibility, Recognition And Supporting A Barrier-Free Work Environment.”

Speaking on the platform created for the occasion by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration (CIoTA) Nigeria, Hajia Lami Tumaka, a retired director at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), specifically called for more purposeful and strategic approaches to enable women in the industry get visibility and recognition.

Tumaka, however, charged women in the industry to build their capacity in their chosen careers, for them to qualify and take available opportunities for themselves.

She spoke on the need for training as a fundamental tool for development while women seek for visibility and recognition.

“Training is critical for women to take up higher responsibility in the maritime. Nobody will give you a seat because you are woman; you have to build your capacity and show that you can be there and play at the highest level. That is what the theme for this year’s international day for women in maritime is about.

“While we know we are not yet where we should be, but we can get there, there are various women who have been outstanding and have distinguished themselves… the likes of  Mrs Mfon Usoro, the first DG of NIMASA, first woman President  of CILT, and Abuja MoU;  Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi,  Princess Vicky Haastrup, Jean Chiazor- Anishere, Juliana Gunwa, Mrs Bola Muse, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, Lami Tumaka, and many more.  We all tried to break the bias. We worked hard and built our capacity,” Tumaka said.

She, however, condemned the discrimination still happening against women in work places like in the Police Force and even in sports.

She said: “Female police officers cannot have children for a certain length of time. That is gender inequality. In the game of football, table tennis, there is a wide gap in payment between women and men- men get paid higher than the women, even when they participate in the same games.”

Hailing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) for seeking to promote women,  Hajia Tumaka called for more inclusiveness for women on boards of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

She called on the Nigerian Ports Authority, NIMASA, the Shippers’ Council to be purposeful with giving women increased visibility and recognition in line with what the United Nations and the IMO have done.

A second speaker, Dr. Mercy Bello- Abu, the Rivers State Coordinator for Women’s International Shipping  and Trading Association (WISTA), also lauded the theme around training and retraining, which she recognised as a path to achieving great goals as women.

She said: “I love the theme of training, visibility and recognition. As a consultant, I know the importance of training for our women. I am here today because I am always hungry for new knowledge to improve on what I do. If your voice must be heard, then you must embrace training.”

She encouraged women to start by knowing and valuing their worth and to make efforts to become visible even after acquiring knowledge and being trained.

Dr. Abu also charged women in the maritime industry to acknowledge compliments given them as well as make impact in the career lives of younger women, as a way of making themselves even more visible.

“You can only make a mark with knowing yourself and identify the needs you have to improve your capacity.

“For the women in the industry, do acknowledge compliments, appreciate others and prepare the next generation. We must be selective in networking with people, choose and plan your relationship, use your talent and know what you are doing with it.”

She praised women for showing much resilience during the covid-19 lockdown, and called for more barrier-free work environment to enable women showcase the best of their capabilities.

She added: “MDAs in Nigeria should follow the vision and mission of the international bodies UN, IMO to ensure women have opportunities to contribute in greater capacities. You have to be prepared by getting the skills and knowledge.”

Abu advised women in the maritime industry to be authentic and follow the words of former First Lady of the United States of America, Mitchell Obama, who wrote in her book that “I know myself.’

The meeting, which was moderated by the National publicity Secretary of CIoTA, and a staff of NIMASA, Mrs. Chizoba Anyika, and supported by CIoTA’s Registrar, Mr. Rasheed, had rich contributions from industry stakeholders including Dr. Ifeyinwa Nwakwesi, Professor Dayo, Mrs. Asagwara, Jessica, Chika, Professor Calistus Ibe.

In his vote of thanks, the Secretary-General of Abuja MoU, Captain Sunday Umoren, described the special day for celebrating women in the industry as welcoming, just as he appreciated how a number of women had worked on board with him in time past.

He encouraged women to give themselves to training and exude excellence, which would make it impossible for them to be denied a place in the affairs of the industry.

Umore said: “On my last few ships, there were five girls on board the ship and they were good. Training should be two-angled. Men should accept the fact that the women come into the space to support and not to take away our jobs. Excellence will make you visible. The spirit of excellence will break barriers. It is about competence.”

Giving a summary, Anyika called on women to see opportunities in the industry and make themselves available however tough the terrain may seem.

She appreciated women who worked during the covid-19 lockdown, and called for barrier-free workplaces.

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