SA women in maritime: ‘There’s progress with gender transformation!’

DSC_7452.JPGPretoria: 19 December 2019

The general socio-political and economic mood might not have been the greatest in South Africa during the passing year, with good reason. But it is also just as true that – in the words of SA Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir – there had also been ‘pockets of excellence’ the country simply can’t afford to ignore.

One such area of positive development, at least according to some of  the country’s leading women in the maritime sector, has been noticeable progress achieved in the advancement of women in the sector.

DSC_7506.JPGIt has been, according to them, a notable progressive achievement in South Africa capped late in 2019 by the appointment for the first time of a South African, and a woman, as President of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly during its last sitting in London.

South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ms Nomatemba Tambo became the latest symbol of maritime sector gender representation transformation success after she was elected the IMO General Assembly’s President during its 31st session held in London from 25 November to 04 December.

It was also during that session in London that the 174 Member States of the IMO also adopted a resolution on “Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector”.

18_12_11_IMO_WMD_WomenMaritime_Logo_Languages-English 2019That stance encapsulated and reflected on a year during which the advancement of women in the maritime sector worldwide received the highest attention from both the international and regional bodies as well as individual countries, as the 2019 theme for World Maritime Day also directed focus on deliberate gender parity in the sector.

DSC_7582.JPGIn Durban on Thursday evening (12 December 2019), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) joined by the Department of Transport, hosted a stakeholders’ briefing function attended by various officials across the industry.

During the session, this blog took time to speak specifically to women present and who are leaders in the maritime sector in varied ways. They were, in no particular order; Ms Londiwe Ngcobo, Africa’s first black female Dredge Master; Ms Siyamthanda Maya, Managing Director of SA Marine Fuels; Ms Innocentia Motau, Director at Mediterranean Shipping Company and member of Women In Maritime South Africa; and Ms Kgomoto Selokane, Chief Executive Officer of COLT Marine.

Below are their views on business in general as well transformation in the maritime sector in South Africa.

Incidentally, it also emerged that one of the companies, MSC is aiming at creating no less than five (5) thousand jobs in the cruiserliner subsector over the next five years, working jointly with SAMSA.

Take a listen:

Ms Ngcobo: “South African has been so intentional to ensure success of women empowerment..”

Ms Maya: “We’ve seem the emergence of credible black companies….”

Ms Motau: “We launched Women In Maritime SA and we look forward to 2020 with anticipation and excitment…”

Ms Selokane: “Competing with well established companies not child’s play, but rewarding…”

 

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Women the target of new maritime education bursary in honor of Sindiswa Nhlumayo: SAIMI

DSC_4996.JPGPretoria: 16 September 2018

Women education in South Africa’s maritime sector has been given a shot in the arm with the recent launch of a new merit bursary in honour of the late Ms Sindiswa ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo, a former South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) executive and reputably a pioneer in skills development in the sector.

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The late Ms Sindiswa Nhlumayo

The new merit bursary known as the Sindiswa Nhlumayo Merit Bursary, conceived, developed and administered by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, was launched recently and is now open for applications until end November.

According to Mr Odwa Mtati, Projects Manager at SAIMI, the new bursary is in recognition and acknowledgement of the pioneering work of Ms Nhlumayo in the field of skills development for the maritime economic sector while at the employ of SAMSA in Pretoria as head of its Centre for Maritime Excellence.

Ms Nhlumayo, also an academic and work performance multi-award winner, passed away in February 2016.

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Mr Odwa Mtati. Projects Manager: SAIMI

Significantly, said Mr Mtati, the new maritime education funding would target primarily women in South Africa as a means to increase their opportunities in the sector. The main reason was the apparently miniscule number of women in the sector, which he said constituted a mere two (2) percent of all workers.

 

“SAIMI is proud to announce the establishment of the Sindiswa Nhlumayo Merit Bursary to enable young black women to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies in maritime-related fields and achieve success in their careers in the oceans economy.

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FOR WOMEN: (From Left) Ms Nozipho Nhlumayo (sister of Sindiswa) and Ms Tanaka Mugabe displaying a certificate in confirmation of the establishment of a new maritime education bursary in honour of the late Ms Sindiswa Nhlumayo during launch in Port Elizabeth recently

“The bursary has been created to honour the memory of Sindiswa Nhlumayo and her substantial contribution to the growth of the maritime sector and skills development in South Africa. Her leadership, her passion for the maritime economy and commitment to empowering young people to enter maritime careers, made her a much-loved role model to many,” said SAIMI in a statement during launch of the new bursary in Port Elizabeth two weeks ago.

For Mr Mtati’s full remarks, click on the two minutes video below.

Meanwhile, the SAIMI initiative has been met with excitement and full support by SAMSA, describing it as a necessary and opportune intervention for women in maritime education and skills development, while also a highly significant and appropriate gesture in honour of its former employee, Ms Nhlumayo.

SAMSA is a pioneering founding member of SAIMI which was established in 2014. Key among its activities is the management of the country’s National Cadet Programme.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Chief Operations Officer: SAMSA

Reacting to the launch of the Sindiswa Nhlumayo Merit Bursary for women keen on maritime education and training, SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi said: “Firstly we thank SAIMI for the initiative and we feel honoured to be associated with the name  of someone such as Ms Sindiswa Nhlumayo who was a colleague to me and a hard worker.

“The legacy that she left, having worked so hard to try and focus the whole issue of capacity building for the maritime industry, to support the maritime economy, required us to acknowledge her,” he said.

Crucially, it was the targeting of particularly women that the launch of the bursary remains highly significant, he said.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (three minutes), Click on the video below

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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.

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