Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki has called for an increase in scholarship and mentorship to boost female participation in the Nigerian shipping sector.
The Minister said this last week while addressing stakeholders at the celebration of World Maritime Day in Lagos, even as she added that there is need to have women at all levels and to explore every avenue to make more of them participate more actively in the industry.
The celebration had as theme,” Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.
She added that women can excel and do as much as their male counterparts in a technology-driven shipping industry, adding that focus should address key areas like education, employment and businesses owned by women.
According to Saraki, gender equality was a principle that had not manifested in the maritime industry, she argued that women can excel and be as good as their male counterparts in a technology driven shipping industry.
She said that to for such to happen, there should be a decisive incentive strategy and affirmative action that would help to ensure women inclusiveness in the industry.
“We need to find ways to change the narratives and ensure that these women who have the initiative, who are fearless, graceful, intelligent and have the nerve to take no for an answer have a say in the industry.
“We need to ensure that their voices are heard, as in raising women, we will lift Nigeria,” she said.
She said focus should address key areas like education, employment and businesses owned by women.
She called for increased funding by government and mentoring by successful females in the industry for younger ladies
The minister who cited China as one country that has experienced high participation of women in shipping, also advised that Nigeria should borrow a leaf from China. She noted that, previously, China had only one percent female participation in shipping, but added with increase in technology, that the figured has soared to 28%.
She also frowned at the current figure of 26 cadets which is about 10.2% of the total number of cadets in the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron in Akwa Ibom state.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said that liberating the society will help reduce the level at which women face economic challenges and thereby allow them achieve their true potentials.
Amaechi said that women should be concerned with how to lift more Nigerians out of poverty.
According to him, life is about courage, and so women should stop begging and understand that having appointment in any field is based on merit.
“Women need to confront the reality and take power by themselves and challenge men in the industry.
“They need to discuss issues and tell the society the challenges they are facing, create wealth for themselves and try as much as possible to lift women out of poverty,” he said.
Mr Dikko Bala, representing the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said the group was committed to supporting countries to achieve the UN gender sustainable development goals as regard gender equality.
He recommended among other things that to support women, all female cadet in maritime academy should as a matter of policy be sponsored, and female champions should have five girls they mentor.
Mrs Lynda Ikpeazu, Chairperson, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, said that nobody gives power to anyone but one needed to take it.
She urged women in the industry to take power themselves, while also calling for support to ensure that they were removed from disadvantaged.