Nigeria’s First Lady, Her Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, will be leading other dignitaries and stakeholders in the maritime community to campaign and encourage more female participation in seafaring and maritime trade as the country joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s Day of the Seafarer on June 25.

Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who disclosed this at the weekend in Lagos during a chat with journalists, said that more women are needed in the industry currently dominated by men.

He said the decision of the First Lady to attend the event was in order to motivate women, noting that her presence would further boost the ongoing campaign to encourage the participation of more females In seafaring and the maritime industry, in line with the International Maritime Organisation IMO campaign for this year to get more women into the hitherto male dominated profession.

Peterside regretted that very few females were in the profession of seafaring and said NIMASA was working with stakeholders to try to reverse “the great imbalance.” He said the presence of the President’s wife, who will be leading other prominent women in the maritime industry to the event scheduled to hold in Lagos, will be a boost to the efforts to attract more female involvement in the industry. 

He noted that this year’s event, themed “On board with gender equality”, was geared towards encouraging more women to take advantage of opportunities in the maritime sector, particularly as seafarers; as Marine Engineers, Nautical Scientists, Marine Surveyors, Deck officers and even grow to become Master Mariners.

“Statistics available have shown that only two per cent of the total seafarers across the world are females and more disappointing is the fact that majority of this percentage are from the Philippines a country which dominates the profession in huge numbers, raking in huge income / foreign exchange. So there is need for us to take conscious and deliberate actions to encourage women to take a career in seafaring,” Peterside stated.

The NIMASA DG said this year’s Day of the Seafarer was unique, as it is focuses on highlighting the fact that the seafaring profession is not a career solely preserved for men but one that can accommodate all genders. He also disclosed that there would be a one-day sensitisation workshop on Monday in Lagos for over 400 Nigerian female students from all over the country to showcase the benefits of taking a career in seafaring.

Speaking on what NIMASA is doing to encourage women to take a career in the profession, the DG stated that the agency was planning a robust awareness programme that would continue to enlighten Nigerians on the seafaring profession. He said the agency would also look into creating more avenues for Nigerian students through interventionist programmes and proper education.

Recall that the IMO had raised concerns about the low level of participation by females in the seafaring profession and has, therefore, selected “empowering women in the maritime community” as this year’s theme for the World Maritime Day. The United Nation’s specialised organ advised member-states to key into the theme for various celebrations within the year. Hence, Nigeria’s focus on the subject of creating gender equality during the celebration of the 2019 Day of the Seafarer.

This year’s event which is also co-hosted by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority Hadiza Bala Usman and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council Barrister Hassan Bello is also expected to have in attendance the wife of The Lagos State Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, members of Women International Shipping and Trading Association WISTA, members of Women in Maritime Africa WIMA.

Other notable associations that are expected to be part of the event include the various associations of ship owners in Nigeria, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria MWUN and other key players in the industry.