Women in maritime: “We’re on our own!”

ON THEIR OWN! Key participants during a SAMIC 2017 session on “Increasing woman participation in the maritime industry” in Port Elizabeth recently were (from Left), Ms Hermoine Manuel (SHEQ Manager: Nautic Africa), Ms Sefalo Montsi-Zuma, Director: Darmen Shipyards (Cape Town), Ms Angelique Beatrice Tlouenguene-Nlend (Women In Maritime Africa – Cameroon), and Ms Asmaa Benslimane (Vice-President, WIMA -Arabic Countries, Morocco).

Pretoria: 01 May 2017

Women in maritime – what few women there are in the world’s maritime economic sector, all ‘2.2%’ of them – are virtually on their own!

At least that seems to be the overriding view held by African women with keen interest in the maritime economy  and a few of whom see the sector as yet another gender based economic zone, primarily and almost exclusively for men by both design and function.

This view emerged strongly, publicly perhaps for the first in South Africa during the South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) 2017 held over two days at the Boardwalk Conference Center in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape some three weeks ago.

Appropriately, the conference deliberations’ structure had deliberately devoted time – just over an hour – to focused discussion on women’s role, participation, empowerment and contribution in the world’s and African/South African region’s oceans economy but with specific focus on African women.

The women present – both speakers and floor participants – expressed appreciation of the fact.

However, the focused discussion held on the second day of SAMIC 2017, ironically involved only women speakers from South Africa and the rest of the continent, and to the women participants in the dedicated slot, the exclusive female-only discussion did ‘not make sense’, they said.

Was it illustrative and indicative of a male-dominated sector passively letting women to ‘sort out your own problems on your own?’ – both on the podium and the floor the question emerged!

Ms Olufunmulayo Folorunso, a maritime lawyer, administrator and publisher currently the Secretary-General of the African Shipowners Association among key participants during the discussion on woman participation in the oceans economy

Key contributors to the BreakAway Session 3 discussion dubbed: “Increasing the participation of women in maritime industry” involved Ms Hermoine Manuel of Nautic Africa, Ms Angelique Beatrice Touenguene-Nlend of the Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA) organization in Cameroon, Ms Sefalo Montsi-Zuma of Darmen Shipyards (Cape Town) and Ms Asmaa Benslimane, vice-president of the WIMA for Arabic countries, based in Morocco; in that order.

While recognizing efforts being made for women mainstreaming, they were all generally scathing in their assessment of the position and participation of women in the African maritime sector, even as they acknowledged that the responsibility also lay with women to entrench and assert themselves as deserving role-players and therefore equally accountable for ensuring an increase in women participation in the sector.

In the four (4) videos below, an effort has been made to both present their speeches with as little editing as possible except where the use of presentation slides  (not all available for this production) required trimming.

The 5th video, captures the ensuing discussions with the audience and which also remained lively and indicative of the interest, but also confusion and dissatisfaction experienced by women in the maritime sector generally.

To view each video, click on the name of the person and for Video 5 click on “Group discussion

Floor participants during a discussion on women in maritime at the SAMIC 2017 event in Port Elizabeth

Video 1: Ms Hermoine Manuel speaking on Mainstreaming gender participation in the maritime sector

Video 2: Ms Angelique Beatrice Touenguene-Nlend –  Access to maritime careers and maritime business opportunities

Video 3: Ms Sefalo Montsi-Zuma  – Challenges facing women in the maritime sector and

Video 4: Ms Asmaa Benslimane – Policies, strategies and action plans to mainstream women’s participation in the maritime sector. 

Finally, Video 5: Group discussion.

End

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