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FESAN decries poor number of registered female seafarers in Nigeria

FESAN decries poor number of registered female seafarers in Nigeria

The Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria (FESAN) has decried the poor number of registered female seafarers in Nigeria.

According to a communiqué issued at the end of a webinar organised by the association in collaboration with Women in Maritime Journalism (WIMAJ) to commemorate the 2021 day of the seafarer, out of 6,039 seafarers registered in Nigeria, only 567 representing 9.3 percent are females.

Also, only 304 out of the 2,041 Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) beneficiaries are females, representing 14.5 percent.

The communiqué states that deliberate strategies guaranteeing a fair future of female seafarers are sparse and are neither implemented nor prioritised in Nigeria.

It noted there is poor implementation of policies that support maternity leave for female seafarers, thereby cutting short their career when they decide to start childbearing.

“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,” the communiqué reads.

Continuing, it further states, “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.”

Read also: NIMASA begins wreck removal on Nigerian waters to boost safe shipping

It states that there is no collaborative effort between Nigerian maritime institutions and foreign flag states to promote the engagement of Nigerian cadets on international vessels.

“Female seafarers have shown that they have enough physical energy for the work 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,” it explains.

The communiqué further disclosed that few ship-owning organisations have in-house policies that foster growth, visibility and accomplishments of female seafarers.

“Mentoring younger female seafarers are necessary for 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,” it adds.

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 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 to decide modalities for the increased women participation in the maritime sector,” it adds.