The Minister for Transportation Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has charged women in the nation’s maritime industry to leverage on the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to enhance their participation and expand their frontiers in the maritime industry.
While speaking at the Annual Business Luncheon and Magazine Launch of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) in Lagos on Thursday, the Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani decried that women are poorly-represented in the nation’s maritime industry, which includes port management, ship management/ownership, marine engineering, among others.
The minister noted that the AfCFTA is expected to provide an anchor for long-term reform and integration policy, geared towards reduction in trade cost, growing manufacturing sector, lowering the gender wage gap, providing new job opportunities and increasing decent employment opportunities especially for women.
She however stated that in order to minimize the existing gender participatory gap in the maritime sector, many countries including Nigeria have keyed into the strategic gender programme of International Maritime Organization, geared towards enhancing the participation and contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders.
In his words, “according to the International Maritime Organization, women represent only two percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers. As we confront the challenges posed by COVID-19 Pandemics, it is important to give women the opportunity to play an effective leadership role in the rebuilding/recovery efforts in the maritime and trade sectors.
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“I therefore wish to emphasize the need for coordinated capacity development for women to achieve a continuous improvement in career progression and productivity level in the maritime/transport logistics industry. The focus should be on enhancing technical skills to enable effective participation in the domestic and regional value chains while taking advantage of the opportunities offered by global value chains” ‘
While presenting a paper at the well-attended Annual Business Luncheon and Magazine Launch, the Co-Champion for Transportation Sector at the National Action Committee on AfCTA, Ms. Funmi Folorunsho elucidated on the benefits of the agreement and trade opportunities particularly open to women who are exporters, importers and legal practitioners.
“Women are quite important because of the significant transformational impact they hold for defeating poverty. Over 70 percent of cross-border traders, especially those engaged in informal trade, are women.
“The AfCFTA Protocol on Trade and Services is the first endeavour to liberalise intra-African trade in services. AfCFTA also includes the liberalization of five services sectors namely: transport, tourism and travel-related, financial, communications and business services” Ms Folorunsho noted.
She however enjoined WISTA Nigeria to create a platform for members intending to enter the Africa free trade area, ensure her members have access to information and training opportunities on trade networks; and also engage in strategic partnerships to facilitate access to African Markets.
On his own part, the Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin stated that shipping facilitates the development of the nation’s trade and consequently internationally.
While giving a detailed presentation on various issues at play in shipping and international trade, he charged women in the industry to maximize the potentials and opportunities in the industry in order to break new grounds.
Speaking earlier, the President WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke said the objective of the luncheon is to show that there is a need to empower women, increase the number of women in all cadres of the trade and shipping sector as well as confirm that women are capable and willing to take on these roles.
She then encouraged both young and old females to join the maritime industry despite the odds, in order to increase the number of women in the maritime sector, equip women with the skills and knowledge to grow their maritime business, or maritime participation stating that the WISTA Magazine is here to serve readers, in Nigeria and beyond.
According to her, the objective of WISTA Nigeria is to showcase that women are taking their rightful place at the forefront of global business, trading and shipping. “Women in the field of trade and shipping cannot afford to miss the opportunities in establishing an international footprint and this magazine aims to expose these opportunities so they could be maximized. This is the time to showcase the abilities of Nigerian women in trade and shipping and the possibility of achieving even greater feats” she said.
The height of the event was the launch of the WISTA Magazine and presentation of awards to some stakeholders. The awardees include: Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, Otunba Kunle Folarin, Princess Victory Haastrup, Chief Mrs. Vivian Amadife, Chief Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, Chief Mrs CFO Ezenwa, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and all past WISTA presidents.
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