The 6th Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Africa Region Conference has been held in Accra with a call for the creation of more opportunities for women participation in the maritime sector, particularly in Africa to fully harness the huge potentials of the continent’s blue economy.
The President of WISTA Ghana, Jemilat Jawulaa Mahamah, in a welcome address implored policy makers and all stakeholders to work at promoting the development of the blue economy to be able to derive the full benefit the sector offers adding that it is capable of creating opportunities especially for women and girls.
She also stressed on the need to protect the oceans as they are being threatened by climate change and pollution.
“The oceans are the future for human survival, not only because of its resources but also for the climate. The blue economy concept seeks to promote economic growth, social inclusion and the preservation or improvement of livelihood while at the same time, ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans,” she stated.
The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim said a baseline data for women development needs to be created assuring that his outfit is committed to the progress of women as the World Maritime University has provided a platform where the capacity of women is enhanced in various fields of the maritime industry.
“IMO’s women in Maritime program has been driving the change for gender equality in the Maritime professions. This program was initiated in 1988 where few Maritime Institutes opened their door to female students. Since then IMO has been actively supportive and promoting access to Maritime training and improvement of opportunities for women in the Maritime sector,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Transport, Kweku Ofori Asiamah, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, advocated for sustainable opportunities that will engender women participation in the maritime industry, with focus on Africa to fully connect with the huge potentials of its blue economy.
He stated that more than half of Africa’s population is made up of women hence the needed support needs to be created to nurture them towards development of the maritime sector.
“Women form a very significant portion of the continent’s population and their role in any development effort cannot be ignored. However, the international transport workers’ federation estimate that only 2% of the world’s Maritime work force are women, this we cannot be proud of. I believe the time is now to change these statistics by enhancing opportunities for women participation in the sector,” he said.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia further stated the appointments of the first female Director of Tema Port and Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority shows how committed government is about empowering women in the sector.
“Government is making an effort in empowering women in our governance process. To this end, the first time in our history, the Director Port for Tema is a woman. His Excellency has also appointed a woman as Director General of Ghana Shipper’s Authority. Not only that, the chairperson of the Board of Ghana Shipper’s Authority is also a woman,” he added.