Maritime women associations collaborate to drive policy for growth

Some of the participants at the International Women’s Day celebration

THREE maritime women associations on Thursday advocated for equity, technological advancement and inclusion of the gender in the digital space, to boost the maritime industry in Nigeria.

The associations include African Women in Maritime (WIMA), Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) and Women in Maritime of West and Central Africa (WIMOWCA), all Nigeria chapter.

They made that call at the celebration of the International Women’s Day in Lagos, jointly organised by the three association, with the theme; ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’.

They noted that instead of fragmenting activities, they decided to collaborate to stand as a stronger voice for the good of women and the girl-child.

Speaking, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, Chairman, Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd., noted that the meeting had been a success because of the belief in the saying that goes, ‘united we stand’ and ‘the more the merrier’.

She noted that the associations coming together would give them strength to pursue their purpose with vigour and be determined to progress.

According to Edodo-Emore, also the President of Women in Maritime of West and Central Africa (WIMOWCA) Nigeria, these women association all aim the same thing, the development and empowerment of women in the industry.

“Individually, pursuing these objectives, one has not achieved much but putting the association together means that we have a stronger body speaking with one voice in front of government, industry and others.

“We will be able to drive policy towards things that will be advantageous to women and be able to call funding that will support women’s project and education.

“We believe that in going forward, we will begin to see the practical results and effect of this collaboration,” she said.

She pointed out that the collaboration had come to stay as they planned to take opportunities in decision-making bodies and places in the country.

Also contributing, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke, WISTA Nigeria President, noted that part of the challenge they had experienced made them to discuss collaborating and staying under one umbrella.

“This conversation started with the former Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on the need for them to have one voice, be taken seriously and be able to have financial and sponsorship assistance.

“In getting assistance, when the assistance is fragmented, it makes no meaning, less impact and will not go far and so this led to the birthing of the Women in Maritime Network,” she said.

Ezeoke said that some African countries women associations, like theirs, get backing from their governments, noting that unfortunately, not so in their home government.

“We need financial help and assistance, especially in attending international conferences where we can network for the good of our country.

“ In a recent meeting with the permanent secretary, we were told that the budget for associations were scrapped for years and that the associations should start sourcing for funds.

“Women cannot be left on their own without support, it would appreciate even if it’s just moral support from the government,” she said.

Mrs Rollens Macfoy, President, WIMA Nigeria, said if the network succeeds by the end of the year, she will see power, force of gravity and women being given a voice and attention.

Macfoy, also the Managing Director of OceanDeep Services Ltd., said that success had no gender, urging women to strive hard to be the best.

According to her, if one is not allowed to strive after values are made known by your doggedness and of course humility, that is when you can say you are being marginalised.

“This is why we say there a lot of women who are technological and professionally advanced and not given the right opportunity.

“Now we have women truck drivers, pilots, working in vessels, mechanics, they should not be shut down but be given an equal opportunity. Let their substance speak for them,” she said.

A cadet, Ms Peace Moulders, said that innovation and technology would play a critical role in addressing the world challenges from climate change to healthcare and other.

According to Moulders, however, it is not enough to simply wait for the technology to emerge, women must actively embrace and promote them to drive positive change.

She said that some challenges faced by women in technology and innovation are gender bias, unequal pay, lack of access to funding, limited networking opportunities and others.

“A call for action for individuals and organisation is to foster a culture of innovation by encouraging risk taking, invest in research and development, promote ethical considerations and advocate for policy changes.

`|Government and organisation should remove barriers to innovation, because by embracing them there would be better future for the girls, communities,” she said. (NAN)