Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen, on Tuesday described girl-child education as the fulcrum for balancing gender gap in the society.
Tallen spoke at the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) 2019 Annual Business Luncheon, Magazine launch and 25th Anniversary.
The theme of the event was, “Balancing the Gender Gap in Maritime Participation”.
According to the minister, focus on the the girl-child can be achieved through collaborating with the Ministry of Education to promote enrolment, retention and completion rate of girls in schools at all levels.
“Balancing gender gap in the maritime sector connotes that there is inequality in opportunities and needs to be rectified.
“It will require a pool of well educated and professional women who are well equipped with the basic leadership skills and Information and Communication Technology know-how to impact on the girl-child.
“It requires that from the onset young girls receive quality education to prepare them to make the rightful choices in life; especially in careers in maritime,” she said.
Tallen said that there was an increased demand for mainstreaming gender and application of gender indicators for development planning and programming, but it was limited by low levels of technical expertise.
She said that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs would be partnering with WISTA in the task of mainstreaming gender in the sector.
“Mainstreaming gender equality is a commitment to ensure that women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences are integral to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all legislation, policies and programmes.
“This will ensure that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality,” she said.
The minister emphasised the need for a conducive environment for effective participation, alliance building and strengthening partnerships for action in support of gender equality, empowerment of women and girls and the realisation of their human rights.
She said that this could only be possible “when we put aside our differences and work together as a strong force to achieve the long yearnings and aspirations of Nigerian women”.
In her goodwill message, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, urged women in maritime to collectively aspire and pursue working toward balancing gender gap.
Bala Usman said that pursuing gender balancing would enable women to get fair advancement that was commensurate with their qualifications and experience.
“When a woman is empowered, you are invariably empowering a whole generation that will benefit from the quality of leadership that is exceptional and unique to women.
” The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as enshrined in SDG (4,5,8,.10) aim for inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life long learning opportunities for all; Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls; decent work and economic growth; Reducing inequality in the lives of women.
“Emphasis should be laid on innovation by enabling women discover themselves, build personal and corporate brands, identity that differentiate them in society making them not only unique and authentic but visible to rise into role of leadership and influential position,” Bala-Usman said.
She said that women were not asking for equality in terms of power with men but earnestly calling for equal opportunities, as females are special gift from the unfathomable unknown and greatly endowed with special qualities.
Bala-Usman said that there was evidence to show that institutions with more women leaders have better performance and achieve higher economic growth.
Mrs Mary Hamman, President WISTA, urged women to come out from their shells, as everything now was computerised, so they could stay in their homes and participate in the industry.
According to her, WISTA did not just grow without evaluation; they have done so much but have to do more because of the many potentials in the maritime industry.
Dr Dakuku Peterside, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) urged women to come together as an association to brainstorm on ways to reduce gender gap in the industry.
Peterside, represented by Hajia Jumai Musa, said that truly women are under-represented not only in the maritime industry but everywhere, urging them to work together to put themselves in the picture.