By Steve Agbota, LagosThe Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has said that less than two per cent of women make the workforce in Nigeria’s maritime industry.Speaking while moderating a session with the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr. Kitack Lim at the Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022 in Lagos, Hasstrup said the gender equality gap in the industry remains very wide and unacceptable.She commended the government agencies and private organisations in the industry for their effort to bridge the gap, but maintained that despite these efforts, a lot more work still needs to be done to give women their rightful place in the industry.“I commend the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Women in Maritime programme initiated in 1988 to support gender equality and the empowerment of maritime women.“Government agencies and private companies in the Nigerian maritime industry have also tried to develop various policies/initiatives including training, mentorship and networking opportunities to integrate more women into the sector, but it is still a long way to go.“Women underrepresentation, discrimination and lower pay, among other challenges, are some of the threats to gender equality in the maritime industry.“A lot more effort is required to counter these challenges faced by women in the industry,” she said.The STOAN Chairman said IMO’s gender programme, which provides gender-specific fellowships to women; promotes policies that ensure equity, safe and decent working conditions for all who work in the sector; provides an environment where women are recognised and nominated for career development opportunities in maritime training institutes ports and maritime administrations have will help in creating a barrier-free working environment for women.“I also commend IMO for establishing the International Day for Women in Maritime to provide a platform to highlight and celebrate the achievements of women in maritime and identify areas of improvement for gender balance,” she said.In his response, the IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim said, “Women inclusion in the world maritime has already caught momentum. One thing in IMO is, recently I appointed the first female Director in the history of the organisation. I expect something like this in Nigeria. I hope you may produce this in Nigeria. I hereby throw my weight behind women inclusion in Nigeria.”In her contribution at the session, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, encouraged women to equip themselves with the necessary skills so that they can be competitive.“Don’t just ask for position because of your sex but earn it. Earn it by empowering yourself with the required skills and go all out there to get what you want. If you have the required capacity, it’s going to be very difficult for people to just push you aside,” she said.