Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has announced elaborate plans to empower young girls to increase the inclusion and participation of young women in the maritime industry.
The authority called on other marine actors to establish synergies and action oriented strategies, to address the gender imbalance aspect in the industry that is greatly dominated by men.
KMA Director General (DG), Robert Njue, applauded the Association for Women in the Maritime Sector for East and Southern Africa (WOMESA), for training and creating awareness among women, to tap the opportunities available in the maritime sector.
In a speech read on his behalf by Eng. Jeremiah Onyango, at the Annual Regional Summit to celebrate women in the maritime sector in Kisumu County, Njue said women play great roles in shaping the future of the maritime industry globally.
“In line with the empowerment of women in the maritime sector, KMA supports the employment of qualified women in the maritime sector and the representation of women in key decision making positions,” Njue said, adding that the authority has provided qualified women based on merit with equal access to opportunities to work in the authority.
The DG revealed that about 42 per cent of the workforce at KMA comprises of women with 12.5 per cent trained in key areas including marine engineering, nautical studies, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
“You will agree that gender- diverse teams enable the maritime community to benefit from a wide-ranging talent pool and promote better job satisfaction, employee engagement and retention,” Njue noted.
In addition, he said KMA has licensed five recruitment agents, including Mombasa Ocean Agency, Diverse Shipping, Alpha Logistics, East Africa Deep Sea Fishing and the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), to facilitate access to seafaring employment opportunities that provide women and men decent working conditions.
He said the authority is currently collaborating with the State Department of Shipping and Maritime, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection as well as other stakeholders, in the development of a standard wage for Kenyan seafarers, to resolve the current disparity in wages between Kenya and other nations.
Njue noted that the body also works to ensure standardization and accreditation of Maritime Education and Training institutions, to facilitate women seafarers’ access to specialized technical training, positioning them to benefit from an array of competitive opportunities alongside the men in the sector.
“KMS ensures that our female seafarers and those pursuing land based maritime courses, access the best quality of maritime education and training in local institutions such as the Bandari Maritime Academy and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, to enable them to compete and benefit in the international maritime labor market,” Njue stated.
KMA in collaboration with other stakeholders in the industry, he added, continues to mentor, educate and sensitize women and girls around the country about the maritime sector and blue economy, career opportunities in the sector, and investment opportunities to enable them to participate actively in the industry.
The Secretariat of WOMESA was hosted by KMA during the two-day summit to network, share experiences as well as organize mentoring sessions for women and girls, to join the maritime sector, and pursue careers in the sector.
Women in Maritime Survey Report 2021 shows that the proportion and distribution of women working in the sector account for only 29 per cent of the overall workforce in the general industry and 20 per cent of the workforce of National Maritime Authorities in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states including Kenya.
The report further highlights that women seafarers make less than two per cent of the world’s seafarers and are mainly employed by the cruise sector. A previous study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), also indicated that women accounted for less than two per cent of the world’s 1.25 million seafarers serving on 87,000 ships.
Njue said that cruise companies in Kenya and Comoros lead the table for female seafarers followed by those from New Zealand and Spain. In ship owning companies, women make up 34 per cent of the workforce.
Nevertheless, women tend to enjoy a stronger representation in the shore side staffing. These include the cruise industry, crewing agencies, maritime law, recruiters, public relations, marketing, advertising and insurance, which boast a female workforce of over 50 per cent.
By Robert Ojwang’