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Shippers Council DG Roll Out Gender Equality Progamme

It is true that Women have slowly begun to make inroads into sectors that have traditionally been considered as the domain of men. Nevertheless, Women in male-dominated occupations face unique challenges, they experience so much from exaggerated criticisms of their work to outright bullying and harassment from male colleagues and as a result of this many women who choose male-dominated careers soon change in favour of more female-dominated or gender-balanced career paths.

In a bid to fight gender bias in maritime, the Director General of Nigeria Chamber Of Shipping, Mrs. Vivian Chimezie Azubuike has initiated programmes that women can leverage on to enable them thrive in a male dominated industry as well as pushing to ensure policies are in place to address the challenges that female seafarers encounter.

Speaking with Global Affairs Magazine at the 3rd edition of Nigeria Chamber of Shipping IMO International Day For Women in Maritime Conference 2024, the convener postulates that women need an inclusive environment where equity and equality is defined.

“The factors surrounding these particular dynamics is because we are women and sometimes, we don’t have organizations that encourage us to climb up the ladder, as women we give birth to children, we have the maternal instinct sometimes.”

Speaking further on how the initiative came to be. She said, “I found the IMO’s announcement quite interesting so in 2021 IMO had the first inaugural celebration of Women in Maritime. It’s called the international day for Women in Maritime. As a Chamber of Shipping because we are also part of the International Chamber of Shipping, we attend board meetings. We felt it was important for us to also key in and be part of this objectives and we started our own conference so what we do is to give a week off to enable the International Maritime for Women to be celebrated by IMO and we take a date to celebrate them.

“Maritime industry is a very peculiar industry because of the role we play in shaping the economy globally, this is not a funfair event, at the event today basic issues were mentioned and because it’s for women we spoke our truth, we spoke our concerns. The issues are there but except you are on this platform and you give people the opportunity to speak they don’t speak. We are going to take it further from here to ensure that policies are put in place.

“The chamber is an advocacy platform so we speak about issues that are inherent to the industry, real issues bothering the industry. We are major stakeholders driving the industry forward. We are made up of different ship owners and different stakeholders who make up the value chain of the shipping industry, we also have the Maritime and Shipbuilders, we have so many people.

“The chamber is always in the vanguard of moving the industry forward with the support of the government and the agencies.

“This event today is quite dear to me, it’s my initiative so I’m practically the convener and this is the 3rd year running and every year we pick the theme of the event as advertise by IMO.

“So, this year’s theme is ‘Women Shaping The Future Of Maritime Safety’. You would notice that we invited the maritime psychotherapist. Women suffer a lot, across the world when a woman speaks it’s as if she’s a woman she got complain but then we don’t talk when there’s nothing to talk about. So, it’s not like we are just talking about regular issues. We have had issues about sexual harassment. We had issues of women not given the best PP, Personal Protective care that they can wear on board a vessel so everything about the Maritime is male oriented but there are women in this industry and there are women that wants to join the industry so how do we encourage them to join? We don’t just have male captains we have female captain, we have female Marine Engineers. How do you create the space for them to grow in their career ladder If you don’t give them the opportunity, if you don’t provide the right environment for them to grow.

“You cannot ask a fish to climb a tree but if you put the fish in water it’s definitely going to swim away. So that is what we want and it’s not just Nigerians that are speaking. We have international speakers as well so it’s the same thing. Now, when I see them say these things and we are all nodding in unionism that means it’s not just peculiar to Nigeria. Nigeria is a very big player in the Maritime industry all over the world. The same thing everywhere, what happens to Dick happens to Harry, what happens to Joan happens to Mary. The objective is to ensure that our voices are not just heard but we are able to come up with a push for some sort of policies and terms of references that people can rely on to ensure that the industry is safe for the woman.’

The event held at Four Points by Sheraton on Thursday, 23rd of May 2024, and the high point of the event was when Women leading in maritime sector spoke on strategies to assist female seafarers navigate the masculine-dominated workplace as well as identifying coping strategies that enable them to continue on their career paths and how to manage gender discrimination and bias.

The main challenges that seafarers encounter were discussed at the panel session which was interactive and women gained invaluable insights and practical advice to navigate the complexities of their personal and professional lives. Participants were given the opportunity to engage industry experts, and successful women who have conquered in the Maritime sector.

Vivian called on the government and organisations to develop and implement policies, strategies and initiatives geared towards integrating and retaining women in male-dominated occupations.



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