New Group ‘WIMOWCA’ brainstorm on GoG piracy
By Kenneth Jukpor
The participation of women in the maritime economic space in West and Central Africa is set to take an upward trajectory with the inauguration of the Association for Women in Maritime of West and Central Africa (WIMOWCA).
African women, already credited with a significant role in the sustenance and development of shipping and other maritime businesses, are set to tackle the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) with the new group.
While delivering the keynote address at the event which held in Ghana, the Ghanaian Minister of Transport, Mr. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah said; “Today’s ceremony is a testament of the advancement of women and their contribution to the maritime domain in Africa and globally. I say congratulations to you women in the Maritime fraternity for your tireless efforts.”
Kwaku described the theme for the inauguration: ‘Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea’ as a very important subject to be deliberated by delegates and recommendations adopted thereafter.
“Maritime safety is integral to the sustenance of national economies especially for coastal countries. However, there are major threats confronting us including piracy, armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing activities that require urgent attention,” he said.
Noting that piracy and armed robbery at sea cannot be tackled by single governments, he encouraged states and organizations operating in the region to continue to work together to agree on an approach that suits the collective maritime security interest.
He, however, posited that to achieve a holistic and sustainable development in the global maritime domain, there is an urgent need to bridge the gender gap.
“There have been over 30-years of action taken at the international level to encourage women’s participation in maritime domain. For example, in 1983, the IMO established the World Maritime University (WMU) to help build capacity in the maritime sector. In 1988, the IMO established a Women in Maritime Capacity Building programme , at a time when women’s enrolment into maritime training institutions was very minimal.”
Also speaking at the event, Rear Admiral FD Akpan (RTD), stressed the need to examine the trends of insecurity, outline the crimes and threats in the GOG, efforts by the Military/Navy to curb these excesses.
She encouraged WIMOWCA can participate to engender maritime security, “WIMOCA should feature in the advocacy to ensure the domestication of some of the Accords and Protocols signed by member states. Join the Navies of the GOG to build more capacities in their acquisition of the right type and size of their navies. Agreed that the maritime subsector is male dominated, Women must find their feet in the administration of the maritime agencies just like they are doing in the banking sector in Nigeria. They have always Proven to be more reliable.”
According to her, women are great in advocacy, so, WIMOWCA must be at the fore front to champion efforts aimed development of the demographics along the littorals and reduce to the minimum incidents of trafficking in all its ramifications.
Meanwhile, the President of WIMOWCA, Madam Sylvia Asana Owu said the new platform encourages greater women’s participation and sustainable development of the maritime industry in West and Central Africa.
“I wish to first of all convey to you all warm greetings and well wishes from the WIMOWCA. Let me also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the IMO for its commitment and guidance in the processes leading to the launch of WIMOWCA,” she said.
Asana Owu, who is also a Hall of Famer at the MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF), expressed on behalf of all the affiliates of WIMOWCA, “deepest thanks and appreciation to the IMO Secretary General for his support and that of the IMO Secretariat in helping organize the launch of WIMOWCA to have a voice and contribute to the sustainability of the maritime domain in Africa and globally.”
In his remarks, the Secretary General of IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, expressed delight to have participated in the launch of the Association of WIMOWCA as one of the IMO-supported regional women in maritime associations, or WIMAs.
“It is a welcome addition to the global network of WIMAs. This special event provides a unique opportunity to discuss and celebrate two topics: women in the maritime community, and Africa as a maritime continent. I must express my appreciation to all those that have worked tirelessly to support the establishment and launch of WIMOWCA and this event including the President and other executives,” he said.
He noted that as part of the United Nations family, IMO’s vision and strategy is clearly aligned with global efforts to improve the lives of people everywhere and to reduce the negative impact of human development on our planet.
“We are committed to helping our Member States achieve the aims of the 2030 UN Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, in particular SDG 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” he said.
The new WIMOWCA executives are; the President, Ms. Sylvia Asana Dauda Owu, Vice President, Ms. Madam Maria Jesus Ada Obiaga Mangue, Secretary (Francophone), Ms. Yvonne Moyu’tane, Secretary (Anglophone), Mrs. Nneka Ogochukwu Obianyor, Treasurer (Anglophone), Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore.
The group also has three trustees; Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro, Caroline Mawandji, Mrs. Jemilat Mahama, while Ms. Prisca Bekale (Francophone) and Ms. Euridice Semedo (Luxophone) are Media Officers.