By Kenneth Jukpor
As the world celebrated the International Women’s Day (IWD) last week, the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC) of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) held a strategic session for women, where the LPC Port Manager, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Olotu emphasized that women aren’t second class citizens.
The event saw the port management partner other female groups and notable female maritime bigwigs for capacity development in a bid to bridge the gap of gender inequality in the nation’s maritime sector.
In her welcome address, Mrs. Olotu urged maritime stakeholders to emulate the NPA management which had achieved success across board since it started giving female professionals opportunities at the Authority.
Olotu said; “We are asking for equality for women. Women aren’t second class citizens. We are champions. We are wonderfully and beautifully made. The inadequacies of a man are made perfect by a woman”
She admonished women who have risen to the peak of their careers or occupy strategic positions in government or institutions to develop the culture of supporting younger women.
“When you find yourself at the helm of affairs as a woman, give equal opportunities to women”, she said; while urging women to place premium in the discharge of duties and prompt responses to dutiful demands, even small details such as responding to mails.
According to her, women have to match the dexterity and commitment of their male counterparts in various fields to show that they deserve the opportunity.
“Men plan a lot and they strategize. Let us begin to do same. Women should study while others are sleeping. Decide while others are delaying, Invest while others are lavishing. Avoid petty gossips and engage those who would challenge you to be better”
“We are challenging women out there to go out, rule your world and conquer; make diamonds out of your charcoal, because diamonds are made out of clusters of charcoal that stay out of sight for a long time. Whatever challenges we may have been facing for long, we should manage them properly and at the end of the day come out the best,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) Princess Vicky Haastrup urged women to put in extra work, noting that they are already gifted with abilities to multitask successfully.
She said women have the innate gifting and strength to balance work and family and should appreciate themselves and not be intimidated.
“Women should be celebrated because we are carriers of so much grace and I am not trying to be spiritual. We work and still take care of the children, husband and manage the home. We have so much potential as wives, mothers and professionals in different fields”, she said.
Admonshing women not to be lazy, she said, “I wash and cook for my kids before going to work. I get home and stay busy until past 11pm most times. At some point I was the breadwinner in my home but I never why away from responsibilities.”
She posited that the world would have been a terrible place without women, adding that she was excited with the level of energy and awareness about self realization and women empowerment in the country presently.
The President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke, President of Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT) Nigeria, Mrs. Folake Soji-George, President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAfrica) Nigerian chapter, Haijia Bola Muse, and other professionals also emphasized the need for women to prioritise education and dedicating to enable them through the ranks in the industry.