As the world celebrates the 2023 International Women’s Day, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has pledged to set aside one quarter of its Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) scholarship training programme for women in its drive towards the advancement of gender inclusiveness.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, disclosed this while speaking at an event to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day celebration held at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos on Wednesday.
The event attracted several notable women from across the maritime industry including top female employees of the agency, the Chairperson, Nigerian Ship-owners Forum, Barr. Margaret Orakwusi, President, WISTA Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke; President, WIMA Nigeria, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy; Founder, Ocean Ambassadors Foundation (OAF), Hon. Violet Williams; among others.
The 2023 International Women’s Day celebration, which has the theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’’ according to the UN, is targeted at bringing women and other marginalized groups into technology to achieve more creative solutions and greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality.
In his address, Jamoh, stressed the need for women to be encouraged to increase their participation in the maritime sector as there is still gender imbalance in the sector with women making up only 2 percent of global seafarers.
He assured that the management of NIMASA remained committed to women’s career growth and development in the agency.
He said, “At NIMASA, we can level the playing field in the maritime sector and we must do that. We have demonstrated that our women are not pushovers anymore. They are really giving the men a run for their money. Currently, in NIMASA, we have not less than 10 female Directors and heads of units.
“I would like to state that from today, NIMASA would ensure that whatever number we are sending on international long term training, women must have not less than two slots minimum.
“On the issue of NSDP scholarship, we would never dare send NSDP students without taking into consideration one quarter of women into the sponsorship program.”
Jamoh tasked women in the sector to empower themselves and take full advantage of the opportunities in the sector including purchase of vessels and establishments of jetties.
“Women must empower themselves through collaboration and support for one another and take full advantage of the opportunities within the sector.
“Take for example, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) where we have so many men today struggling to be part of the few resources given to us and appropriate portions of it to themselves, women can equally be part of the shipowners by venturing into the issue of the CVFF Fund.
“Women should not be shy to explore participation in major projects in the maritime industry like establishment of jetties, purchase of vessels and other associated services related to the industry.
“As for the NIMASA women, I want to use this occasion to reassure you of the management commitment to your career growth and development.
“We want our women to lead and excel in their careers and use technology to enhance the maritime sector,” Jamoh stated.
The NIMASA DG also gave approval for a mentorship programme just as he directed the admin and personnel services department to develop a concept note on the structure and the cost implication.
In her goodwill message, the Chairperson of Nigerian Ship-owners Forum, Barr. Margaret Orakwusi, had proposed that NIMASA set aside a day for mentorship to position the younger generations of opportunities in the sector.
Orakwusi commended the NIMASA DG for supporting and building staff capacity even beyond their stay in the agency.
“NIMASA has shown that it prepares its staff for jobs even beyond their service years in the agency. And the young people need to be mentored.
“May I request that in your honour we have a day set aside in the industry and call it NIMASA Mentorship Day or Maritime Mentor Day, to mentor not just our young females but also the males.
“As a mother, I will tell you that we are what we raise. If you don’t raise the men very well, they end up being what we would not want, so let us carry them along,” she said.
Goodwill messages were also presented by several notable women in the sector including Head of the Transport Group, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, Ms Funmi Folorunso; a former director at NIMASA, Dr. Felicia Mogo; a former Director at NIMASA; Hajia Lami Tumaka; President of WISTA, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke; a board member at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hon. Olaitan Williams; and President of Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA) Nigeria, Mrs. Rollens Mcfoy.