The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has said that women were the most disadvantaged in the world, but added that the world must constantly remind itself that women matter when it comes to nation building.
She therefore advocated the establishment of a network or association in every industry which should provide a platform for women to share experiences, encourage each other and tackle their challenges with one voice.
According to a statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Jatto Adams, Bala-Usman was speaking while presenting a paper entitled, ‘Improving the Participation of Women in the Ports’ at the just concluded third World Maritime University Conference, with the theme: ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.’
It said the MD whose paper dwelt extensively on women position and gender diversity in work places globally, stressed the need for gender equality as a critical tool in nation building, so as to check the problem of gender imbalance which cuts across almost all professional spheres.
She emphasised the need to encourage young girls to take interest in Science and Technology Engineering and Mathematics so they could pursue careers in shipping, marine, operations and engineering sub-sector.
She equally advised that the 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.
Bala-Usman urged government agencies and private sector investors to be deliberate about increasing the tally of women in the sector, explaining, “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 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.