WISTA: Sexual harassment, major factor hindering optimal female participation in seafaring

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The contributions of women may continue to remain abysmally low, particularly in the area of working aboard vessels at sea, in so far as the present high level of sexual harassment, bully and racism remain uncontrolled on the female cadets.

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency  (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside indicated this on Thursday in Lagos, during this year’s annual event of Women’s International Trading Association in Nigeria (WISTA) held at the Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Lagos, with the theme ‘Sustainable Opportunities for Seafarers in Nigeria’, stressing that it is for this reason that only few percentage of female seafarers still practice, after graduating.

“There are enormous challenges presently confronting the female cardet, especially in the maritime industry; but these challenges would have created lots of opportunities that if properly looked into, will generate massive jobs and wealth for the Nation”, the DG who was ably represented by the Assistant Director of Maritime  Labour, Amos Hosea koje observed.

Emphasizing that most of the female cadets are constantly discouraged from practicing due to factors which ranges from fear, rejection and molestation, the NIMASA Boss noted further that it is therefore not farfetched that the profession is seriously dominated by male cardet.

Dakuku highlighted that after a successful completion of a research carried out in 2015/2016 on female seafarers from United States, China and Nigeria it was concluded that only 2 percent of the female seafarers has unfailing passion for the profession, while the majority are made to develop interest for the reasons that it is very lucrative.

“Of course, the importance of pecuniary pressure and family interest are also parts of the reasons some female go into it”, he posited, advising Nigerians to utilize the various opportunities in the industry rather than focusing only on some of the challenges of the female cardets on board the ships, which may include tribal sentiment, racism, cultural differences, bad weather in some area, difference in food and above all sexual bully and harassment.”

He maintained that in a blue Economy like Nigeria is working towards, all these could be seen as opportunity by way of providing lasting solutions.

Earlier in her welcome address the President of WISTA Nigeria Mary Madu appluded African women for showing genuine concern, in all spheres of life, including their environment.

“Africa Women have been known to be actively involved in tree planting, combating windstorms and management of communal water resources”.

In his own words, the Chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited  Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho made a serious appeal to the Federal Government and NIMASA to create jobs for the cadets after spending huge resources to train them.

The seasoned stakeholder also pleaded for the provision of a traning vessel to enable the cadets effectively board and experience life at sea, and become fully-baked seafarers.