Government and players in the Port and Maritime Industry have been urged to institute deliberate interventions and policies that will allow for a broader and increased participation of women in the industry.
Country Inspector for the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), Capt. Catherine Haizel, the Executive Secretary of the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, Perpetual Osei-Bonsu and the Chief Operating Officer of Conship, Linda Vasnani, are unanimous in their conviction that there is need to create a conducive environment for more women to participate and thrive in the industry.
These calls come on the back of the recently celebrated International Women’s’ Day.
Speaking on Eye on Port, Capt. Catherine Haizel, lamented some challenges within the shipping subsector that is deterring women from pursuing a career at sea.
“For instance, when you go to some countries and then you’re doing your duties as deck offices taking care of loading and offloading cargo, you give the supervisor in charge instructions, and he tells you he doesn’t take orders from women,” she cited.
Capt. Haizel, who is a veteran mariner and retired senior lecturer at the Regional Maritime University, said she expects players in the shipping industry to ensure that shipowners improve working conditions for women such as the provision of separate restroom facilities for women on vessels to enable them work comfortably.
“We have that challenge of washrooms too. The males have their own washroom, but we don’t. The facility is one challenge we face. Even the uniform they do not make it in women’s sizes,” she lamented.
Speaking on the same program, the Executive Secretary of the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, Perpetual Osei-Bonsu, also called for the provision of some ancillary facilities such as crèches within the working areas to ease the burden of working mothers in order to keep a healthy work-life balance.
Taking her turn on the subject, the Chief Operating Officer of Consolidated Shipping Agencies, Linda Vasnani, encouraged women to create schedules that would help them keep a sustainable work-life balance as they pursue excellence in their careers.
She also urged women to take advantage of short courses to keep themselves abreast of trends in the industry, in the event they cannot leave the family to travel for further studies.
Linda Vasnani also called on more Ghanaian women to pursue careers in some areas in the maritime industry that have not seen significant women participation like crane and truck operation among others.
“I want to see women challenge themselves and take up things that the men are doing. I look forward to the time I see women operating delivery trucks and cranes and excelling at it,” she expressed.
Capt. Haizel, who is one of Ghana’s pioneering women seafarers called for more women participation in the nautical area of the maritime industry.
She said several courses are available at the Regional Maritime University in Ghana for both men and women in the industry to earn the requisite skills to work in the underexplored blue economy.
“RMU has various departments like marine engineering, nautical science, electronics, the port and shipping administration among others,” she listed.
The Executive Secretary of the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, Perpetual Osei-Bonsu also added to the call for increased women participation in the Blue Economy.
“We want to see more women at the board room like the Benonita Bismarck and co.”
She however underpinned the importance of a solid educational background in the pursuance of a career in the industry.
“You need to be well educated, someone who reads and is abreast with current affairs,” she advised.
The Chief Operating Officer of Conship, Linda Vasnani, said the remarkable success of some women in the port and maritime industry is testament to the need to eliminate all forms of discrimination and gender inequalities in the industry.
She urged women to work hard and earn their place in the male-dominated maritime industry.
Mrs. Vasnani said, “one advice I have for women is to continue being excellent even in the face of challenges, eventually you will get the respect you deserve.”