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Listen: KAIPTC wants women to be safe, confident in maritime workplaces  



This is ‘At The Marina Today,’ a podcast brought to you by Onepage Africa. I am your host, Hope Orivri, PhD.

On the programme today, Dr. Emma Birikorang, the Acting Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) Accra, Ghana, joins us to share insights on how the Code of Practice for Protection of Women in Maritime Security should work, considering gender equality and the creation of safe work environments, where women can have their voices heard with a sense of confidence for necessary action.

The Transcript

ATMT: Dr. Birikorang, you are welcome. Kindly help us understand what the maritime code of practice to protect women in maritime security is all about.

Dr. Birikorang: Thank for so much for your question and for your interest in the work that we are doing. We are in the process of implementing a project on integrated responses to threats to maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain, which focuses on West and Central Africa. As part of the project, we have been interacting with a lot of women in West and ancestral Africa trying to understand the challenges they have, why we do not have so many women in the maritime space, and even those who are in the maritime space, whatever the issues that they have. So, there are various components of the project that we are currently undertaking.

Now, in exchanging with a lot of our interlocutors, some of the things they say include the fact that women do not have a lot of opportunities in the maritime space, they don’t have a lot of jobs, there is discrimination, there is sexual harassment, there are repercussions when sexual harassment issues are reported. There are also issues around culture sensitivity. These are all issues that come up when we interact with women in the maritime industry. So, one of the things we thought that we needed to do, we thought that there are lots of organisations that really have good intentions , but they do not know how to go about this. If you want to address the issue of gender equality in an organisation, where do you start from? What are some of the parameters that you need to be aware of? And so, this code of practice was developed to give organisations, institutions, even at the state level  as well as to the local sub-state level, some ideas of where to start from, the things that they can put in their standard operation procedures, when they are doing policies. What are some of the things that they can put into these documents? This was why the code of practice was developed. It is a code of practice about women, for women ,to support women’s advancement in the maritime space.

ATMT: Let me just chip in. For everything that you have mentioned, fine. But I know many people would say that these things already exist in different documents all around the different areas of the maritime industry, particularly even for seafarers. So, as we speak, can you kindly tell us what is going to be very spectacular about this and probably the model that would work differently from what is in existence?

Dr. Birikorang: There are a lot of things that in existence. But a lot of them are also very disparate. It is difficult to find one document in one organisation that encompasses all the various things that this particular code of conduct touches on. And so, you will find that in several organisations you would have a small clause in the SOP of the organisation that touches on sexual harassment and then it leaves it there. Then, they look at their structure and they realise and say “OK, maybe we are lacking in this particular area. Let us put a bit of emphasis there.” Then, there are issues around cultural sensitivity   issues that concern women. I mean, there are issues that women are concerned about that may not necessarily concern men . So, all these issues have been put together in one document so that an organisation would take it and they can study it and see how they can work with it. Interestingly, what KAIPTC has done, we have a gender policy, buy nothing very specific on maritime . So, what we have done is to do like a model policy statement . So for example, any organisation can take it and they can model their own institutional policy on this code of practice.

ATMT: Ok. Now, I know one thing as a development strategist; it is not enough to establish this. I want to see something that has to do with engagement with the women. How have you fashioned that into this, because it is here, it has been launched and companies, organisations are going to try as much as possible to adopt each of them into their policies. But I want to see, how women are going to be engaged. Then sustainable engagement that would make them feel that sense of fulfillment and confidence that yes we have a voice  we have a platform where our voices  an be heard, where we can be considered in all the issues that we have raised or that have been a burden in our hearts over time.

Dr. Birikorang: This is absolutely important. And this is why in developing this particular document we made sure that it was participatory. There was a whole consultation process. We spoke to a lot of Women’s groups. We spoke to organisations, and we engaged with state actors, non- state actors. So, that was how this document was developed. There have been several stages of the development of the code of practice. So, the culmination of it is where we are bringing all these people we have engaged from the beginning. During the launch, you heard that WIMA was part of the organisation, WISTA, NIMASA. All these groups, we have been engaging them consistently over the years. So, this document, even as we are launching it, it is not necessarily new to them. They have been part of it already. So, it is easy when you are part of a document in the production stages, it is easy for you to own it and implement it. That is why we have confidence in it. We didn’t live in our little corner and then write a document and say take it and apply it.

ATMT: I think you have answered this. Congratulations once again on the launch of the code of practice for protection of women in maritime security. Nice speaking with you.

Dr. Birikorang: We hope that you will amplify it and also implement it in the media space.





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