FESAN, WIMAJ urge NIMASA to increase female training quota in seafarers development programme

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By Udeme Clement:

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has been urged to increase its female training quota in Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), to encourage more women participation.

This formed part of the Communique issued at the end of a webinar, organised by Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria (FESAN), which the Honourable Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki delivered a keynote address.

The programme with a topic; “Fair Future For Female Seafarers”, was organised in collaboration with Women in Maritime Journalism (WIMAJ),
to mark 2021 edition of Seafarers Day.

The Communique stated; “There is no collaborative effort between Nigerian Maritime institutions and foreign flag states to promote engagement of Nigerian cadets on international vessels.
The NSML supports Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme by NIMASA.
19 female cadets from the NSDP/SCDP are currently undergoing sea training onboard NSML managed vessels and are considered to be very talented.

“Females have shown that they have enough physical energy for the work.
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 of 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 insisting on male supremacy, which must be addressed.”

The Communique recommended that
Maritime industry and stakeholders should review policies on pregnancy and maternity leave to ensure convenience for females working onboard vessels;
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.
The system must decisively deal with sexual molestations on board vessels.
Collaborations between indigenous maritime institutions and foreign flag states through accreditations must be encouraged, to boost engagement of indigenous cadets by foreign vessels”.

The programme moderated by Mrs Ezinne Azunna, Chairperson of WIMAJ, received goodwill messages from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) through Ms Helen Buni, its Principal Programme Assistant, Resource Mobilization and Partnerships, Technical Cooperation Division.
Others include goodwill messages from Mr Temisan Omatseye, former President, African Shipowners Association (ASA), the former Director General of NIMASA, Mrs Hope Orivri, with WIMAJ, Hajia Bola Muse- President, Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA) Nigeria, Mrs Chizoba Anyika- Secretary WISTA Nigeria, Mr Emmanuel Maiguwa, President, Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron (AMANO), Madam Obiageli Obi- former Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Mrs Rollens Macfoy- MD Ocean Deep (a Crewing Agency), Mrs Chizoba Ejiofor-HR Starzs Investments amongst others.

More so, Capt. Blessing Edidiong Abalo, the First Female Master Mariner in Nigeria, Capt. Sunday Umoren –Acting Secretary, Abuja MOU, Mr Henry Agbodjan- HR Manager NSML and Engr. Omeaku Glory, were members of the panel of discussion who addressed questions put out by IMO to determine what a fair future would indeed mean for seafarers. Also, discussions were directed to female seafarers in Nigeria,
agencies, Industry leaders, technocrats, seafarers and other stakeholders who attended the event.

The panel discussion, and general contributions stressed that female seafarers deserve a Fair Future; that FESAN is a support and mentoring platform for female seafarers in Nigeria.
In the same vein,
the Pandemic threw open critical roles seafarers play in facilitating global trade. The pandemic also showed that seafarers work under harsh conditions; and
deliberate strategies guaranteeing a fair future of female seafarers are neither implemented nor prioritised in Nigeria.
Out of 6039 seafarers registered in Nigeria, only 567 are females, representing 9.3 perent of the entire seafaring population, only 304 of the 2041 Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme beneficiaries are females representing 14.5 percent.
There is poor Implementation of policies that support maternity leave for female seafarers, thereby cutting short their career, when they decide to start having children.
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.

FESAN should pilot more engagements among female seafarer and stakeholders in the country necessary to decide measures and modalities for increased women participation in the maritime sector.
Government should create specific opportunities such as encouraging quotas for females on vessels trading in Nigeria, training and development for women.

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