WISTA Nigeria celebrates 25years, seeks more female participation in maritime

L-R: Mrs Funke Agbor SAN; Mrs Mfon Usoro; President WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Mary Hamman, and First President of WISTA Nigeria, Madam Funmi Folorunsho

On its annual business luncheon and twenty fifth anniversary celebration, the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria still want more awareness to encourage young women to take up study and careers in the maritime industry.
The celebration event themed “Balancing the Gender Gap in Maritime Participation” held on Tuesday at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos.

Launching the WISTA Nigeria magazine

In her opening remarks, President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs. Mary Hamman, expressed satisfaction with the association’s initiative of empowering women fishing groups at the grassroots level.

WISTA recently donated a fishing boat to a community women fishing group in Enugu State, done in collaboration with the state government to support maritime trade.

Hamman, who is also the director of shipping promotion at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said the association also strategized to carryout outreaches to create awareness and encourage young people, particularly the girls, on the opportunities available in the maritime industry.

Speaking also, the Chairman of the occasion, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, commended WISTA for its efforts at empowering women’s fishing groups at the level they are doing.

He noted that WISTA had actually created a foundation for encouraging sustainable people- building in growing awareness as well as small businesses in the fishing sub-sector.

His words: “I am always encouraged reading everything you are doing empowering women in fishing as well as educating young girls.

“You may think it is a small thing, but the women are playing the role of care-giving for families.”

Ogbeifun, however, said that women had been playing significant roles as industry captains including managing affairs at the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, and in the private sector including those in terminal operations.

On a panel discussion analyzing the need to balance the gender gap in the maritime industry, President of WISTA Ghana, Mrs. Jemilat Mahamah, said the core still remained the creation of awareness to encourage younger generation of women to take up careers in the maritime industry.

She added that women tend to be more committed to home chores, while the maritime industry demand much commitment also. But that better knowledge of the demands can help the women fair better.

Moderator of the panel discussion, Mrs Funke Agbor, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, supported Mrs. Mahamah saying: “We need to expose younger women to careers in shipping. I came into shipping by chance. But, early and better exposure to what it requires will be helpful.”

Supporting the need for creating level-playing grounds for all gender, Chairperson, Sealink Implementation Committee, Mrs. Dabney Shall-Holma, said: “We need to educate girls on global requirements in the industry, even if funding for education becomes necessary.”

She, however, noted that anybody who desires a position must work to earn it, as nobody would vacate a position for another to come and take with ease.

Maritime lawyer, Mr. Emeka Akabogu, while delivering a paper on balancing the gender gap, highlighted the need and importance of understanding what the gap is, as problem solving requires identifying the elements of a problem.
He noted that a holistic approach to bridging a gap, if there were any in the maritime industry, would need knowing the numbers; how many women are operating as shipowners, freight forwarders, ship chandlers, besides being seafarers.

He argued that it would be faulty to base conclusions on only the number of women seafarers: “If there is any seriousness about gender balancing, it will be interesting to know what the figures are in freight forwarding, ship-owning, chandeling, terminal operations and managing. What is this gap we are talking about?”

Goodwill messages were given by  representatives of all the parastals under the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

The WISTA Nigeria magazine was launched.