By Fredrick Odiero

Maritime actors have been urged to increase synergies and action oriented strategies in order to upscale inclusion and participation of women.

Robert Njue, Director General, Kenya Maritime Authority(KMA) said during a regional conference by the Association for Women in the Maritime Sector for East and Southern Africa (WOMESA)  in Kisumu, Kenya.

“We urge all industry partners to work together to create safe and barrier- free environments for women in the industry to thrive and excel as well as ensure their access to maritime education and training opportunities in line with the Sustainable Development Goal five on gender equity,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by eng. Jeremiah Onyango, noting that women face various challenges in the industry.

These challenges include:  accessing education and training opportunities, discrimination in career progression and promotion, salaries as well as  lack  of facilities on board to cater for women’s unique needs while  others may face bullying, sexual harassment or violence at sea.

Njue said the Authority is cognizant that women in the sector are participating actively in the current developments in the maritime and blue economy sectors in Kenya by challenging stereotypes.

“They are  stimulating growth and productivity, initiating affirmative change in the sector, building the economy and reducing poverty, generating jobs in the industry through their entrepreneurship skills, piloting research and mentoring generations for the country’s maritime and blue economy,” he noted.

He said  KMA supports initiatives that promote the inclusion and participation of women in the maritime and blue economy industry, adding that 12.5% of the Authority’s technical maritime safety department consists of women trained in marine engineering, nautical studies, maritime education and training, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and Maritime Safety and Environment.

In addition, Njue said, KMA continues to facilitate access to seafaring employment opportunities that provide women and men decent working conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity in line with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) as amended, and the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009, by overseeing the recruitment of seafarers and by regulating the recruitment and placement agents for seafarers in Kenya.

He urged WOMESA members to take the lead in marine pollution prevention and ocean research, port operations, ship survey, fishing and aquaculture for you to excel in and make the greater difference.