The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess (Dr.) Vicky Haastrup has emerged as the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria Personality of the Year 2019.
The prestigious award was conferred on Haastrup on Tuesday at the 2019 Annual Business Luncheon and 25th anniversary of WISTA Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of ENL Consortium Nigeria Limited, made case for more women participation in the shipping sector to balance the existing gender gap in the industry.
The STOAN Chairman acknowledged that while there has been improvement in the level of women participation in the sector as against what was obtained a decade ago, there is still need for improvement especially in the seafaring and freight forwarding profession.
She said, “Women are virtually everywhere operating within the sector but we need more. For example, in freight forwarding sub-sector and seafaring, we don’t have too many women. So we want to see more participation in that aspect. If we have more women participate, that part of the sector will be better modernized because people always have more confidence in women and the industry will be better for it.
“Those of us who have been operating in the industry should encourage the younger women and support them within the area we operate. Some of them don’t have financial capacity to operate. That is one of the ways we can encourage them.
“I am happy with the level of participation because the awareness is there and people are getting sensitized about the importance of women participation in the sector. We are getting there, but we are not there yet.”
In her goodwill message, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, urged women in the sector to collectively aspire and pursue working towards balancing gender gap.
Usman, who was represented by the General Manager, Managing Director’s office, Dr Chinwe Abama, said that pursuing gender balancing would enable women get fair advancement that is commensurate with their qualifications and experience.
Usman said women are not asking for equality in terms of power with men but are earnestly calling for equal opportunities as they are greatly endowed with special qualities, adding that institutions with more women leaders have better performance and achieve higher economic growth.
“When a woman is empowered, you are invariably empowering a whole generation that will benefit from the quality of leadership that is exceptional and unique to women.
“Emphasis should be laid on innovation by enabling women discover themselves, build personal and corporate brands, identity that differentiate them in society, making them not only unique and authentic but visible to rise into role of leadership and influential position,” Usman said.
Earlier in her address, the President of WISTA Nigeria, Mary Hamman, urged women to come out of their shells.
She said most aspects of shipping have been computerised, so they could stay in their homes and participate in the industry.
Maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabogu, in his lead paper presentation, noted that while there is gender gap in the industry, women who aspire to take up leadership positions must be willing to face the challenges that would come with equal opportunity with their male counterparts