Out of a total 6,039 seafarers registered in Nigeria, only 567 representing 9.3 percent are females.
Similarly only 304 out of the 2, 041 Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme beneficiaries are females representing 14.5 percent.
These figures were contained in a communique issued at the end of a webinar organised by the Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria (FESAN) in collaboration with Women in Maritime Journalism (WIMAJ) to commemorate the 2021 day of the seafarer.
The communique observed that deliberate strategies guaranteeing a fair future of female seafarers are sparse and are neither implemented nor prioritised in Nigeria.
It noted that there is a poor implementation of policies that support maternity leave for female seafarers, thereby cutting short their career when they decide to start having offspring.
Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, representative of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Ms Helen Buni, former President, African Shipowners Association (ASA) and former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA),Temisan Omatseye, among other industry stakeholders present at the event were unanimous in their submission that competence should be the criterion for engaging seafarers, as such, training and capacity development for female seafarers needs to be prioritised.
Other highlights of the communique are:
“Female seafarers deserve a fair future. FESAN is a support/empowerment, mentoring and advocacy platform for female seafarers in Nigeria.
“The pandemic threw open the critical roles seafarers play in facilitating global trade. It also showed that seafarers work under harsh conditions.
“There are discriminations against female seafarers and gender inequality limits them from being mainstreamed.
“Openings for female seafarers to settle into shore-based roles after their lives at sea will be valuable for inclusion in the industry and will contribute to growth.
“Digitalisation is the future of seafaring, especially for females. It will close the perception of females not having the physical strength to work onboard the ship.
“Vessels in Nigeria are seldom built to accommodate female seafarers.
“There is no collaborative efforts between Nigerian Maritime institutions and foreign flag state to promote the engagement of Nigerian cadets on international vessels;
“The NSML supports the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
“19 female cadets from the NSDP/SCDP are currently undergoing sea training onboard NSML managed vessels and are considered to be ”very talented”.
“Female seafarers have shown that they have enough physical energy for the work where required; and more females are needed in shipping to ensure sustainability and drive effective decision making.
“Female seafarers need more visibility to showcase their work and competence.
“Few ship owning organisations have in-house policies that foster growth, visibility and accomplishments of female seafarers;
“Mentoring younger female seafarers is necessary in the quest for a fair future.
“A safe and secure maritime domain will further encourage more females to join and thrive in seafaring.
“There is disrespect for female professionals due to cultural bias which insists on male supremacy.
“There is no fail-proof system for reporting and dealing with sexual harassment/molestation.”
In its recommendations, the group re-emphasised the need for government to create specific opportunities such as encouraging quotas for females on vessels trading in Nigeria, training and development for women.
It was also recommended that NIMASA should increase its female training quota in the NSDP while industry stakeholders should review policies on pregnancy and maternity leave to ensure convenience for females working onboard vessels.
“FESAN should pilot more engagements among female seafarers and stakeholders in the country necessary to decide measures and modalities for the increased women participation in the maritime sector.
“Configuration of ships to accommodate females should be encouraged and employers can employ more females on the same vessel to minimise the challenge of cabin sharing.
“Female seafarers should also invest in self development in preparation for opportunities they seek. Training of female seafarers on automation should be prioritised.
“More stakeholders should introduce and implement policies that support the growth and visibility of female seafarers.
“Nigeria should work towards having an all female crewed ship.
“Mutual respect and professionalism should be demanded from both genders working on board vessels and disrespect should be sanctioned.
“A system that decisively deals with sexual molestations on board vessels is required.
“Collaborations between indigenous maritime institutions and foreign flag states through accreditations can boost engagement of indigenous cadets by foreign vessels,” the communique reads.