Gender gap in maritime industry too wide, unacceptable ­– Haastrup

Vicky Haastrup, the chairman, the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), has frowned at the fact that less than 2 percent of women make the workforce in Nigeria’s maritime industry.

Moderating a session in Lagos with Kitack Lim, the secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), at the Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022, Hasstrup said the gender equality gap in the industry remains ‘very wide and unacceptable’.

She however commended government agencies and private firms in Nigeria’s maritime industry for their efforts in bridging the gap but maintained that despite these efforts, a lot more work still needs to be done to give women their rightful place in the industry.

“We commend the IMO Women in Maritime programme initiated in 1988 to support gender equality and the empowerment of women. Government agencies and private companies in the Nigerian maritime industry have also tried to develop various policies and initiatives including training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to integrate more women into the sector, but it is still a long way to go,” she said.

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Haastrup listed issues such as women’s underrepresentation, discrimination, and lower pay as some of the threats to gender equality in the maritime industry.

She said IMO’s gender programme, which provides gender-specific fellowships to women; promotes policies that ensure equity, safe and decent working conditions for all who work in the sector; provides an environment where women are recognised and nominated for career development opportunities in maritime training institutes.

She also commended IMO for establishing the International Day for Women in Maritime, which provides a platform to highlight and celebrate the achievements of women in maritime and identify areas of improvement.

Kitack Lim, the IMO Secretary General, said women’s inclusion in the global maritime industry has already caught momentum.

He said that he recently appointed the first female Director in the history of IMO and that he also expects such in Nigeria.

On her part, Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, encouraged women to equip themselves with the necessary skills needed to become competitive.

“Do not just ask for the position because of your gender but earn it. Earn it by empowering yourself with the required skills in order and go all out to get what you want. If you have the required capacity, it is going to be very difficult for people to just push you aside,” she said.

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