By Okuneye Moyosola
Mrs. Jemilat Jawulaa Mahamah is the President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), Ghana. She spoke to MMS Plus at the 25th Anniversary and Magazine Lunch of WISTA, Nigeria. In this interview, she harps on how women can manage relationships at the workplace. She also spoke about other critical issues that affect women in the maritime sector. Enjoy it.
During the panel discussion, you spoke about women trying to make men feel that they want to take their positions and the effects of this. Please shed more light on this ma.
When women find themselves in positions, we try to assert ourselves. In any organization, once you are a woman and you are asserting yourself, you will be threatened. Therefore, you have to find a balance of maintaining the position that you occupy and also making people around you feel at ease to work with you, so that they don’t feel threatened.
However, if you want to over assert yourself and ignore the human relations aspect of it, then there would be a problem. When men feel threatened, you can’t get anything done with them. We must not look like are waiting to sit on them. You don’t have to allow the men to think that you are going to sit on their heads. The most important thing is togetherness. We must work with them to achieve results.
Most women suffer from depression as a result of the multiple roles that they play as mothers, wives, daughters and pressure at the workplace. How can such category of women prevent depression?
I agree with you. There is a lot of mental, physical and emotional depression amongst women in the industry. We have to be able to balance our lives as women and create time for recreational activities. This is very important as it would take the heat off us and when you have a plan on what to do, the pressure decreases.
We also need to interact among ourselves. We need to plan programmes and social activities that will make us feel at ease and give us time to rest well. When this is done, we can resume to our normal activities again.
How have you been able to manage your position as the President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), Ghana, your home as a woman and other obligations?
I am someone that likes to plan thoroughly even from childhood. I just don’t wake up and do things. I always like to plan ahead. Basically that’s how it is. I plan my life.
There is a time for every aspect of our lives. When you plan properly, you wouldn’t have any difficulty in managing your job and your home. Create time for every activity in your life and adhere strictly to them. You have to know the top priorities and stick to them.
What are some of the activities of WISTA Ghana?
WISTA Ghana is an association of professional women in the maritime industry. It was established in June 2009 with the sole aim of promoting the development of women in the maritime industry. WISTA Ghana is the third in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa and more recently Egypt.
The association was inaugurated on 22nd July 2010 by the Hon. Deputy Minister for Transport, Mrs. Dzifa Attivor. Though the maritime industry is male-dominated, it is worth noting that women are gradually taking opportunities in the industry and are actively participating to promote the contribution of the industry to national development.
We hosted the WISTA Africa conference in April this year. We had a lot of dignitaries who attended the programme. We brought over ladies from Nigeria and other African countries. The Vice President of Liberia, Mrs. Jewel Taylor and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General, Kitack Lim were among the top dignitaries in attendance. It was a big event.
During the last Seafarers Day or World Maritime Day, we also organized strategic activities. We did a couple of cleaning at the beaches and organized symposia for secondary school students to educate them about the industry. The maritime industry may not be open to the young ones, but we have to create awareness about the great opportunities in the industry. This would enable young ones have the dream to play a role in maritime as they decide their career paths. Similarly, we have to inform our young girls that been a woman does not mean that they can’t come into the maritime industry and this is what we are driving at.
Our objectives are to promote the role of women in the maritime industry, monitor the participation of women in the industry and issue reports and bulletins, engage in the publication of books, magazine, periodicals, newspapers and pamphlets on the maritime industry and also raise the level of awareness about the maritime industry in Ghana by organizing workshops, seminars, symposia, public talks, and lectures.
Others include supporting programmes or activities aimed at promoting and propagating the interest of women in the maritime industry, co-operate with other similar organizations in and outside Ghana in the promotion of maritime activities and provide training in relevant shipping courses both local and overseas for the benefit of its members as well as mentors.
How do you think women can improve their skills in the industry?
Women can improve their skills in the industry by continually must seeking knowledge pertaining to maritime industry through mentors. They could also acquire these skills from the internet. These days, almost everyone has a phone and there are search engines online that could provide the information that you need to know in the industry. Knowledge is power and is key to success. There are guidelines, laws and regulations guiding the maritime sector and we must know them.
Women must be abreast with opportunities in the maritime industry as well as positions that become vacant. All these can be done through the internet. This is critical for increasing formidable capacity in the number of women in the industry.