The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has advocated for the establishment of women network or association in every industry with a view to providing a platform for sharing experiences, encouraging each other and battling their challenges with one voice.
Ms Bala-Usman stated this while presenting a paper entitled: ‘Improving the Participation of Women in the Ports’, at the just-concluded 3rd World Maritime University Conference, with the theme ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’.
The managing director stressed the need for gender equality as a critical tool in the nation’s building, “so as to check the problem of ‘gender imbalance’ which cuts across almost all professional spheres.”
According to her, women are most disadvantaged in the world, saying that the world must constantly remind itself that women matter when it comes to nations building.
Ms Bala-Usman emphasized the need to encourage young girls to take interest in Science and Technology Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, adding that such initiative would encourage them to pursue careers in shipping, marine, operations and engineering sub-sector.
She, therefore, advised that nations with maritime endowments should fund specialised institutions and provide incentives for girls to take courses in these areas.
“Women who have broken through the barriers in this sector must institute a mentoring system that encourages young ladies to take careers and create a pipeline for succession in the maritime sector,” she added.
Ms Bala-Usman also stressed that government agencies and private sector investors must be deliberate about increasing the tally of women in the sector.
“Last year, for instance, TCIT, one of our Terminal Operators recruited the first set of female crane operators in Nigeria.
“We have assured all stakeholders of our readiness to partner with them on this front,” she added.
The managing director enumerated several initiatives put in place by the NPA management to encourage and motivate women in the course of their career in the Authority.
These initiatives, she said, include the areas of maternity leave and entitlements, as well as the establishments of a creche facility at the Lagos Ports Complex, LPC.
“There must be a network or association in every industry which should provide a platform for women to share experiences, encourage each other and battle their challenges with one voice,” she concluded.