By Aisha Cole
Lagos – The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Usman has urged Professional Women in Ports and Maritime Sector to make themselves more indispensable at their duty posts to increase opportunities for other women.
Usman said this in a welcome address at the Annual Conference of Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) Women Network programme on Tuesday in Lagos.
According to her, there is no way men can speak for women better than themselves.
“Women need to have more opportunities in the sector, given that only two per cent of the World’s maritime workforce is made up of Women.
“In changing this situation, however, I will encourage that even as we agitate, we invest in making ourselves more vital at our duty posts, no matter how the post is.
“Someone once said that there is no better way to reward yourself than doing the things that people say you cannot do.
“The truth is that until recently, the world had put a ceiling on the capacity of women for effectiveness.
“I think the only reason this perception is beginning to change is because we have started to, over the past couple of years, see women who have done incredibly great things even at the global level.
“This is what I recommend to us members of PMAWCA, Let what we do, show what we can do,’’ she said.
The managing director, who is also the 1st Vice President of PMAWCA, said that maritime activities in West and Central Africa countries faced myriad of challenges.
She said the challenges ranges from decay in infrastructure to low capacity utilisation to the outright inefficiencies in the system.
She said that maritime operations in the West and Central Africa countries were generally regarded as corrupt, unsafe, undemocratic, lacking in infrastructural sophistication and poor in legal frameworks for protection of investors.
Usman said that the challenges had enabled investments in the sector remained at an abysmal low, in spite of the very apparent opportunities.
She, however, urged women to be considered in employment for development of the maritime sector in their countries, adding that transportation required resilience, cooperation, communication and strategy.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman, NPA Board of Directors, Mr Emmanuel Adesoye, urged women to be part of the sector and to also increase the capacity of the few women participants that presently existed.
He commended the participants for increasing the chances of every single individual, regardless of their gender to participate in the onerous task of nation- building.
“Now that we are poised to reposition the sector for efficiency in the interest of the country and its people.
“It is also important to spearhead initiative that will change the culture, which instigate prejudice against women in the sector.
“I do not see any other set of people who are better placed to ensure this change other than good ladies who are present at this conference,’’ Adesoye said.
He advised that women should start implementing changes in the maritime sector to create opportunities for training and re-training of women who were already in the sector.
Also speaking in a goodwill message, the Secretary-General of PMAWCA, Mr Michael Luguje, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for hosting the Secretariat of PMAWCA since 1978.
He commended the Government for its invaluable logistics and administrative support it had been offering through NPA for the effective operations of the association.
“I will also like to thank the managing director of NPA for her leadership which had greatly contributed to facilitating our work since she assumed office a couple of years ago.
“Women empowerment remains an obligation in the life of mankind and has also been further enshrined in the defunct UN Millennium Development Goals (Goal 3) and the current Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 5).
“Therefore PMAWCA and indeed the maritime industry is making concerted efforts to give women better visibility and opportunities to excel and assume leadership within the structure of our institutions.
“I am happy that PMAWCA currently boasts of producing three Managing Directors and one Deputy Managing Director, who are women.
They are: Nigerian Ports Authority, Cotonou Portand and Conakry Port Authority, where both the MDs and the DMDs were women.
“I can also confirm that a good number of PMAWCA member ports, a good number of women occupy positions of General Manager and heads of department positions and are performing creditably well,’’ Luguje said.
He said that PMAWCA had pledged its support since 2014 to assist women’s Network and to also support the Network in its activities for capacity building.
Also speaking, the President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA Nigeria), Mrs Mary Hamman, urged women to be more efficient to enable them tap all the opportunities in maritime networking.
“Our recent outing from Rotterdam has enabled us to be accessible and available for other countries to get in touch with us and increasing business networking.
“We have been able to link some Nigerian women in maritime such as ship chandlers to get jobs from ship owners overseas.
“PMAWCA Women’s Network should be given allowances to enable us to meet with other women counterparts,’’ Hamman said. (NAN)