Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah has indicated that women’s participation in the maritime sector is crucial to growing Africa’s Blue Economy.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of Women in Maritime of West and Central Africa (WIMOWCA), which is the newest International Maritime Organization (IMO) regional association for women in the maritime industry, he emphasized the increasing of awareness of gender balance and the importance of women as leaders.
He said, “in the maritime industry today, there is an increasing awareness of the importance of impact of women as leaders. Increasing gender diversity means exposure to variety of new ideas and information from people of different backgrounds. As noted by the secretary General, gender balance is not a women’s issue. It is a business issue.”
The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, Kitack Lim inaugurated the Women in Maritime of West and Central Africa (WIMOWCA), was attended by a plethora of industry players.
The semi-virtual inaugural ceremony and conference held in Accra, at the Shippers’ House also saw the swearing-in of the association’s executives.
Key among the discussions held was the topical Maritime Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, where various resource persons across the subcontinent made presentations on its impact on shipping, challenges, and the way forward.
The IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim, expressed his organization’s support for springing women’s associations in order to ensure that the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 for gender equality and women empowerment is attained.
He disclosed that the IMO “recently awarded fellowships to nearly 50 women to take maritime courses in Le Havre, France and Galilee in Israel with a priority given to female officials from Africa, small island developing states and the least developing countries.”
The President of WIMOWCA, who is also the Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Sylvia Asana Dauda Owu assured of the association’s contribution towards the regional efforts to combat the menace of piracy.
WIMOWCA to pave clearer path for women in maritime industry
Efforts to further propel increased women participation in the maritime industry has kicked up a notch higher with the formation of the Women in Maritime of West and Central Africa (WIMOWCA).
This is because the leadership of this Association has expressed their resolve to collaborate with key industry players to champion the interests of women for positive change in the blue economy.
It is widely reported that women occupy only 2% percent of the maritime industry’s work force.
Speaking on Eye on Port, following the official inauguration of the Association, President of WIMOWCA, Mrs. Sylvia Asana Dauda-Owu, asserted that her outfit would ensure that women in the industry are galvanised to bridge the glaring gender gap in the industry.
According to Mrs. Dauda-Owu, “there is the need for a platform to promote women and harness the talents available within the industry as well as mentor young women to take up opportunities within the maritime industry.”
She said the campaign for women empowerment is also centred on garnering diversified contributions towards topical issues in the maritime sector for sustainable development.
Echoing the President’s assertion, Trustee of WIMOWCA, Jamilat Jawulaa Mahamah, who doubles as the President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, (WISTA) Ghana, said collaboration among sister Associations is aimed at the ultimate goal of seeing women dominate executive roles in the various maritime institutions.
“I do agree there has been some increase in women in management positions, but we want to see more women in the board room. Company and boardroom secretaries are good, but it is not what we strive for. What we want is a thousand CEOs,” Madam Jamilat Mahamah expressed.
The President of WISTA called for increased inclusion of women in policy initiatives concerning the industry.
She said WISTA Ghana has through its advocacy and visibility programs, attracted the interest of young women for the maritime industry.
She also said WISTA has initiated scholarship programmes to support excelling students in the field.
“WISTA Ghana has instituted an awards program for the best female nautical engineering student at the Regional Maritime University. It has attracted competitive interest from the girls who are convinced about the bright future shipping offers.”
Again, Jamilat Mahamah revealed that these collaborations among sister agencies include environmental conservation projects so as to leave a holistic impact on society.
Taking her turn in the discourse, an Executive Member of WIMOWCA, Madam Caroline Mawandji from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said though the DRC is relatively less vibrant in its maritime policies towards women empowerment, there are significant steps to catch up with the world.
She was hopeful that the DRC, in drafting its imminent national maritime strategy will integrate the issue of women empowerment.
She said empowering women is a no brainer because it essentially means empowering the society.
The President of WIMOWCA, Mrs. Sylvia Asana Dauda-Owu, who is also the Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority said next in the agenda of the new Association is the setting up of national chapters.
She said, leveraging on the assistance of the International Maritime Organisation, its mother body, WIMOWCA will draft and institute of 3–5-year strategic plan of action to guide its activities.