By Ambrose Okehi

The Minister of State for Transportation, Hon. Gbemisola Saraki has advocated for more participation of female workforce in maritime related professions particularly the seafarering profession.
The NPA boss also noted that of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) should as a matter of fact recognize the requisite skill of the female folks in the seafaring profession like their male counterparts all over the world.
They noted that women have contributed much in the development of sector and should constitute more percentage than they are having for now. “There are two per cent of women out of the over one million seafarers across the globe which they see as am unfortunate situation.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Isman on her own said in the recent time various forms media have been swashed with heartbreaking stories of women raped.”In the recent time all forms of media have been swashed with heartrending stories of different categories of the female species of homo-sapiens, that have been victims of gruesome abuses, molestations and fatalities. I want all of us to note that most of these reported cases occurred in the LAND and within policed jurisdictions. Can we then begin to imagine what the female seafarers go through on the wide expanse of waters coursing through continents in the literal no-man’s-land and out of sight”.
She said, at the zoom conference with the theme: “Enforcing Policies and Legal Instruments Against Sexual Harassment and Exploitation in The Maritime Industry” held in commemoration of the 2020 World Seafarers’ Day celebration that there is need for the sector to look inwardly within the established legal instruments the come up with a review to  avoid female molestation and all forms of criminalities on our territorial waters against the female seafarers.
On her own the Chairperson, WIMAJ, Mrs Ezinne Azunna said she was delighted to welcome you all to this Virtual Conference on Enforcing Policies and Legal Instruments Against Sexual Harassment and Exploitation in the Maritime Industry put together by Women in Maritime Journalism (WIMAJ).
To her, women in Maritime Journalism is a not for profits body for practicing female media professionals in the maritime industry established in 2019 for; education empowerment”.
She continued: “We aim at consciously and regularly increasing the knowledge base of maritime media women as this greatly bears upon our reportage and professional practice while growing our skills and resources, leveraging on available opportunities; holding ourselves responsible and accountable for our actions as we contribute to the advancement of the maritime sector. We are focused on positively impacting our work community and one another.”
“WIMAJ aligns with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) call for increased women participation in the sector and with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG5 – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls- to help create an environment in which media women can without inhibitions soar professionally, become visible and selected for career development opportunities in the maritime community”.

While looking at what WIJAM stands for Mrs. Azunna said: “Considering these core objectives of WIMAJ, you would not be baffled by our interest in today’s subject of discourse. Sadly, the news of Sexual Harassment and Exploitation in the country recently surged and with the Day of the Seafarer marked on June 25; we are forced to wonder how our female seafarers who live in confined spaces- on board vessels- for prolonged periods have coped.  How also have their counterparts ashore fared? Does the industry have clear policies and laws against these vices? Have we had reported incidents?  How are/were these incidents handled? What punishment does the system mete out on perpetrators? Do we collectively as an Industry shun these atrocities or is there a culture of silence that sweeps incidents under the carpet so as to maintain a façade of organisational perfection while victims are stripped of every sense of decorum?  I will be quick to add that even though available data shows that females are the most sexually harassed and exploited, some males have/are also victims and irrespective of the gender, sexual abuse should not thrive. 

“The Shipping Watch in 2018 published the account 1,150 Swedish women in the Swedish shipping industry who had been sexually harassed and abused on board vessels and identified that sexual harassment of women in the maritime industry has been a problem of many years. The Swedish Maritime Industry took a stand by asking employers to develop routines and guidelines to prevent sexual harassment and to ensure there is no retaliation against the complainants”.
NPA MD, Ms Hadiza Usman


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