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Stakeholders raise concerns over rising discrimination against women in shipping

Stakeholders raise concerns over rising discrimination against women in shipping
Tola Adenubi June 1, 2023

AMID calls for gender parity in the global shipping industry with women participation at just two percent, there are concerns that the existing nomenclature massively discriminates against women’s participation in the sector.

Kenya’s Special Envoy for Maritime and Blue Economy, Amb Nancy Karigithu made this remark recently at the Women in Maritime conference organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) in commemoration of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) International Day for Women in Maritme.

According to Nancy Karigithu, “There is a need to change some terms in the shipping industry. The term seaman is still widely used to describe anyone working at sea. The term manning agents also give the impression that the industry is specifically for the men.

“The nomenclature hasn’t really been pushed into oblivion: almost everyone still refers to the seafarer’s identification as crewmen, seamen, man overboard.”

Nancy, who is also the Advisor on Blue Economy in the Executive Office of the President of Kenya, noted that like several other industries, technology has changed the requirements of shipping with more emphasis on I.T skills and brainpower more than physical strength, adding that women have proven to be well endowed in the area of intellect.

“Women are better managers of resources women display more empathy and understanding needed for successful leadership in work environs. Women represent almost half of the world’s population, so the world can’t claim to be making any significant growth across any field of endeavour with one half of it left behind,” she noted.

She called for strategic catch-them-young initiatives to build interest in maritime for young girls in primary and secondary schools, adding that the place of hard work can’t be dismissed as she maximizes every opportunity to engage young ladies in Kenya to emphasize the importance of hard work.

Also speaking, the president of Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria (FESAN), Koni Duniya revealed that female Nigerian seafarers as well as their male counterparts have been deprived global opportunities because the Nigerian government hasn’t prioritised diplomatic relations with shipping giants.

In the words of Duniya, “some shipping companies have told their manning agents that they prefer male seafarers with vessels constructed without any considerations for females. We have had cases where our female seafarers have been rejected based on perceived inferior certificates.

At other times, the big shipping companies tell us that they aren’t taking Nigerian certified seafarers and we inform them that we have some ladies who trained abroad but they still decline”

On her part, the President of African Women in Maritime (WIMA) Nigeria, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy expressed regret at the marginalisation of Nigerian seafarers in the global shipping domain.

According to her, as a practicing manning agent, she has witnessed some of the setbacks especially for females and made personal efforts to secure opportunities for women.