IMO: Designation of International Day for Women in Maritime excites Olaitan Williams


… Says it’s a plus, way forward for women

The President, Ocean Ambassadors Foundation, Hon. Olaitan Williams has said that the designation of May 18 of every year as the International Day for Women in Maritime by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a plus and a way forward for women.

Williams who disclosed this in a telephone interview with Primetime Reporters recently said that the development signaled a time for women to come together to show solidarity and to challenge themselves to come together and get it right through the ladder.

While insisting that there was nothing as good as that, Williams noted that it was a welcome idea for all the women adding that on that particular day, there was going to be for them, a synergy of women where members of Women in International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) and members of Woman in Maritime Association (WIMA) would come together as one family to celebrate the day.

She said, “Do you know that globally, all women are so happy for this new development. That means that the IMO has realized that they have to, as a matter of urgency, take the womenfolk serious especially in the maritime because globally, the women are pursuing career in maritime. If you talk about logistics and supply chains, if you talk about hyperbaric doctors, if you talk about welders, divers, they are all there now.

“So, it is really a good one for the industry and another thing is, coming together like that will always spur the upcoming generation to look up to the women, that the ladder is high up there and there will be a universal leadership whereby they keep pulling themselves up.”

On whether or not there’s efforts to inspire women especially in Nigeria to take up careers in the maritime industry, the Ocean Ambassadors Foundation boss said, “Of course, yes! I am the President of the Ocean Ambassadors Foundation, we catch them young in the maritime industry and what we are promoting is Girl Child Go to Sea and in the last seven years that we started the advocacy, we now have girls coming onboard.

“We have students studying Marine Engineering in Effurun, we have some studying in Ghana and now that they just finished their JAMB, most of them have now decided to go into marine insurance, nautical sciences, which means that there is an advocacy for the girl child to come onboard.

“Yes, the advocacy is not potent because we don’t have funding, secondly, there is no clear cut organization that is actually driving the girls go to sea campaign vigorously. My brother (Sylvanus) Obasi is doing the second tier, that is for those that are already in the industry. He is using the beauty pageant to promote maritime but we are using the lowest cadre, that is the secondary school and that is the best way to catch them young because Ocean Ambassadors Foundation is endorsed by the University of Lagos, Geography Department and we go to schools, we take them to the seaports and we have quizzes.

“We have opened up the quizzes to almost 4,000 students because during the Covid-19 pandemic, we started the first ever virtual nationwide maritime…and that is our own education palliative from Ocean Ambassadors Foundation and honestly, there’s nothing as good as that because students from all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria participated and 65% of them were girls. That was a pointer towards something, that the girl child wants to learn more than the conventional classroom education.”

On efforts to tackle discrimination against women in the industry, Williams had this to say, “You see, discrimination has always been there. Shipping has always been male dominated just like every other career has always been male dominated but with time, the women have come to say that we are up and doing. So, the discrimination is reducing by the day. But it is clear that there’s a tug of war.

“Now we have the first female tugboat pilot in Africa, Captain Preye and we have so many ladies up there being first. So, discrimination percentage is being addressed and IMO is working towards it and United Nations in the SDGs, you will see that there’s a particular column that has gender inequality that they are trying to address.”

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently declared 18th of May every year as the International Day for Women in Maritime to highlight the contributions of women in the maritime industry and meditate on issues affecting them while proffering solutions to them. The celebration is also aimed at getting women to pick interest in maritime so as to disabuse their minds on the erroneous believe that maritime is meant for the menfolk. The maiden edition of the event will debut this year.

Photo: Hon. Olaitan Williams, President, Ocean Ambassadors Foundation.

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