The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, has described women as the most disadvantage in the world.
Speaking while presenting a paper on “Improving the participation of women in the ports” at the just concluded 3rd World Maritime University Conference in Malmo, Sweden, she said the world must constantly remind itself that women matter in nation building.
The theme of the conference was “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.
Bala-Usman 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 battle their challenges with one voice”.
The NPA Managing Director, whose paper dwelled extensively on women position and gender diversity in the workplace, emphasized 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.
“Women who have broken through the barriers in this (shipping) 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 also advocated that government agencies and private sector investors must take deliberate steps to raise the tally of women in their employ.
“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 said.
She said NPA has instituted some initiatives to encourage and motivate women in the course of their career in the organisation.
The initiatives, according to her, include maternity leave and entitlements, as well as the establishments of a creche facility at the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa.