Empowering Women in Maritime Communities... Jadesimi speaks

IMO's Theme: Empowering Women in Maritime Communities
…Dr. Amy Jadesimi speaks loud in this interview with www.shores2shores.com

Empowering Women in the maritime sector how do you think the empowerment should come? Should it just be by giving funds to women, should it be allowing them access more educational fields such as going for more training or is it opening up more employment spaces? How do you think we should structure this?

As private sector I would say the first thing we have to do is recognize that in order to empower women or have equal representation of women in companies, we have to restructure our companies.

That means we need to have policies around that encourage hiring of women because fewer women come forward. You have to go out and look for these women.
And just to be clear that is not to say that you should hire women who are less qualified than men. No it’s to say that since the women for various reasons are not coming forward you should go out and look for them. Once you find them you treat them on exactly the same basis as the male candidates and you hire the best person.
And it’s worth it as the private sector comes in to make that investment to looking for women.

(This is) because there’s data now all over the place that shows that companies with the higher representation of women make more money. If you don’t go and hire more  women; and look for more qualified women to hire and the company next to you does, that company is going to make more money than you.

Then again the imperative for private sector to restructure their Human Resources (HR), to restructure their recruitment in order to enable them to create an environment where more women can stay and work; or find ways to hire more women that imperative is driven by the fact that it actually also is the best business decision. And once you have women in your company there are things we can do to help them.

Now everyone is familiar with maternity leave in Nigeria but how many people are familiar with paternity (leave)? Are we all offering paternity leave and when I say offering when you introduce a new concept its not just that you put it on the table. No! If thus is something that we as private sector is serious about, we have to actually sell off the concept. We have to encourage men to take paternity leave. Because without men taking paternity leave you still gonna leave the burden of raising the family on women. And you are going to re-start the situation where the woman is always encouraged to step out of her career to look after the child.

Whereas we know from research done across the world that if you have high uptake of paternity leave you would have better financial results in the company. Everything is connected.

Now as private sector there’s a lot we can do and it makes sense for us to do those things because they are of financial interest to the company and it’s a win-win: because it is at the financial interest of the country and in the social interest of the country.
As the private sector what I would encourage the government to do is look at what other countries across the world have done.

For example, of the subject of paternity leave, in some cases paternity leave is obligatory. Meaning that it’s not whether or not the man feels like it, he must take paternity leave.
So there are things the government can step in and do from regulatory perspectives but I think they should seriously look at.
Because a country like Nigeria we can’t afford to miss on any opportunity that could give us a legal to develop our economy.

And so the initiatives I'm proposing for women that government could spearhead are directly linked to improving the country's GDP.

And it’s not to say we are taking anyone’s choice . If a woman wants to stay in her home I think we should also have initiatives that make it possible for her to stay at home.
It is not that people should be forced to go to work  or that people should be forced to hire someone they don’t want to hire  but we should create an environment that encourages women to be empowered; that protects them if they choose to stay at home, their rights in the home needs to be protected, their safety in the home needs to be protected, their rights to education before they decide to stay  need to be protected.

Why? Because all of these regulations in other countries have led to an improvement in the country’s performance.

The changes that we are proposing are first and foremost not things that should take away anybody’s choice but should advancely influence anybody’s choice; it should give women power and it should give them the ability to use that power to make choices for themselves and not have choices imposed by anyone.

The maritime environment is very large both GDP and environmental-wise. Recently, there has been this talk about the Blue Economy, NIMASA is opening up our minds to shift towards the Blue Economy. What do you think can be done about the Blue Economy?

Well one thing I think whenever you talk about anything serious economy: all the initiatives, you have to in the same breath think about sustainability. And this is particularly persistent to the Blue Economy; because from climate change to waste management, even to hiring of women ; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN tie in very tightly with creating any kind of Blue Economy growth.

So in other words the Blue Economy that we are going to create in Nigeria should be in line with the SDG. Not because that is the morally right thing to do but because it is the best thing to do with business perspectives.

You know sustainable businesses are the future and if we create a maritime sector that is at the fore front of delivering on the SDGs , we would definitely create the most profitable businesses of the future.

Now that opens up business opportunities like recycling of vessels, maintaining vessels in a sustainable way, building sustainable vessels: you know gas-powered vessels or vessels powered by recycled materials  particularly if they are plying the waterways, the lagoon doing short journeys. It means that we need to think about technology development.

Meaning the technologies for the Blue Economy for Nigeria  need to be developed in Nigeria; and obviously with all of that we have to think about education or upskilling our people.
That’s where you can also tie it up to women because there are a lot of skilled women out there.

If you look at the number of graduates you always see (I think) that women and men are always equal (well depending on the state). But as you now go higher up, when you start to go into specialized fields in the maritime sector, all of a sudden there are no women.
This is something we should tackle head on as part of our Blue Economy drive. Why? Because this will also drive higher points.

The McKenzie Foundation did a study that showed that if you have parity in employment between men and women global economy would increase by $28 trillion dollars.

Now can we as Nigerians afford to leave that kind of value on the table? We can’t. And the other way to look at such is we are blessed with natural resources, we are blessed with huge population that has a huge appetite for a lot of things that the maritime industry can serve.
In order to build local capacity and to serve our local market we have to develop  the new economy business worth-wise that use the best talent we can find. And of course that includes women.

So as part of the Blue Economy strategies, putting women forward is not a moral obligation. It is actually a business obligation. Because that’s the only way we are going to get the best business outcomes and we need the best business outcomes not just to create the jobs for Nigerians but also to make us globally competitive.


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