IWD: WISTA President, Ezeoke Celebrates Strength, Endurance Of Women In All Spheres

The Nigerian President of Women’s International Shipping And Trading Association (WISTA Nigeria), Mrs Eunice Ezeoke wishes all women around the world a happy women’s day as she celebrates the strength and endurance of women in all spheres of life and most especially in maritime.

In a press statement issued in Lagos on Friday in commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD), the WISTA Nigeria President said, “We take this opportunity to highlight some of the challenges women face in the maritime industry especially female seafarers. 

“The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have issued a series of recommendations in a concerted effort to address violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault in the maritime sector. This sexual harassment is suffered predominantly by women. 

“The issue of harassment was reiterated by the President of the Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria (FESAN), Koni Duniya, who has called for an end to discrimination against its members by ship owners.

“Duniya said that in 2019, there was only five percent growth in female seafaring recorded in Nigeria. She added that female sea farers are discriminated against in getting job opportunities, access to finance for educational development in the field and opportunities to foreign vessel engagement occasioned by challenges with getting visas.

“The measures taken by the IMO on the issues of the working conditions of female seafarers were discussed during a Joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group (JTWG) meeting held at the IMO headquarters in London from 27 to 29 February 2024.

“The recommendations include amendments to the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), aligning it with the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019. The changes also call for mandatory IMO training for seafarers, and extra guidance for shipowners.

“As laudable as the International measures are, it does not and cannot address the issue of underemployment of female Seafarers in Nigeria. It appears government and maritime agencies seem to be paying only lip service to the issue of inclusivity in the Industry. 

“To show seriousness, there’s need for more legislation and regulations; and if possible institutionalization of those measures that eliminate gender discrimination in all ramifications. 

Personally, it goes beyond setting aside one day in a year, but changing how we raise our  male and female children, how we run the home, Schools and the work environment! It starts from the microcosm of the family units to the macrocosm of the society and the workplace.  We have not done much to improve the situation sadly. 

“A lot more needs to be done starting from the relevant government ministries and agencies to the ship owners and all relevant stakeholders”, the WISTA Nigeria President stated.

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