Though most disadvantaged, women important in nation-building—MD NPA

MD NPA,  Hadiza Bala Usman

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, has voiced her thoughts that though women are most disadvantaged in the world, they play very important role in building a nation.

In that vein, she advocated for the establishment of a “network or association in every industry” which should provide a platform for women “to share experiences, encourage one another and battle their challenges with one voice.”

The Managing Director was speaking while presenting a paper titled “Improving the Participation of Women in the Ports” at the just concluded 3rd World Maritime University Conference, with the theme Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.”

Talking extensively on women’s position and gender diversity in work places globally, Ms Bala Usman stressed the need for gender equality as a serious tool in nation building, in order to check the problem of gender imbalance, which cuts across almost all professional spheres.

On the theme of her paper, she emphasized the need to encourage young girls to take interest in Science and Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) so they could pursue careers in shipping, marine, operations and engineering sub-sector and advised that nations with maritime endowments should fund specialised institutions and provide incentives for girls to take courses in these areas. 

“Women who have broken through the barriers in this sector must institute a mentoring system that encourages young ladies to take careers and create a
pipeline for succession in the maritime sector,” she added.

She also advocated that government agencies and private sectors investors be deliberate about increasing the number of women in the sector, explaining that “last year for instance, TCIT, one of our Terminal Operators recruited the first set of female crane operators in Nigeria. We have assured all stakeholders of our readiness to partner with them on this front.”

The Managing Director said the NPA had initiated the maternity leave and entitlements programmes, as well as the establishment of a crèche facility at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC) to encourage and motivate women in the course of their career in the Authority.

She encouraged industry networks and associations to create platforms for women to share experiences and support one another in times of challenges.