Head, Sales and Marketing, SIFAX Group, Linda George (left), Ag Head, Business Development and Strategic Planning, Victor Olotu, NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, and Marketing Officer, SIFAX Group, Ibikunle Oladimeji, at the 2019 International Seafarers Day celebration
Citing statistics from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which put the global women workforce in the maritime industry at a paltry two per cent, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, has lauded the “On Board With Gender Equality” campaign.
Commending the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for the initiative, she noted that with such a programme in place, NIMASA was striving to ensure a gender balance in the nation’s maritime industry.
In her address at this year’s Day of the Seafarer celebration in Lagos, she regretted that though gender imbalance was a global problem in the labour market, “the worst example of this phenomenon exists in the maritime community where records indicate that a disheartening two per cent of the workforce is women.”
According to Bala-Usman, who was represented by the NPA Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Dr. Sokonte Davis, the problem is global in dimension due to traditional and religious practices which exclude women from certain career opportunities.
However, she said “we should go past these sentiments and give our citizens, irrespective of gender, the best opportunities that life offers them,” while urging young girls to take interest in science and technology subjects to enable them pursue careers in shipping, marine and operations.
She disclosed that NPA was already making the work environment more women-friendly with its 16-week maternity leave, as against the common 12 weeks, while nursing mothers are allowed to report to duty an hour behind official time and close an hour before official closing time as part of initiatives to encourage women in the workplace, besides its recently commissioned crèche for nursing mothers.
Above all, “we must constantly remind ourselves that women matter and that when we build women, we build humanity,” she said.
Meanwhile, indigenous multinational, SIFAX Group, backed the celebration with corporate gift items in solidarity with the theme, “On Board With Gender Equality,” and to identify with NIMASA and the seafarers on the occasion and the purpose.
A SIFAX Group subsidiary, Ports and Cargo, operates Terminal C at the Tin Can Island Port, and is one of the most successful terminal operators among the concessionaires.