Kayode Olabanji, Okitipupa
Nigeria’s government and international development agencies have been called upon to accord women more attention due to their very significant contributions and the integral role they play in the economy of the ocean and maritime sector.
A university don, Prof. Funmilola Agbebi of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, School of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH), Okitipupa, made the call while delivering the 4th inaugural lecture of the University.
The lecture titled “Is it a Man’s World? – Interrogating the Blue Economy through the Gender Lens” was held at the main campus of the University in Okitipupa.
According to the Professor of Fisheries Economies and International Marine Policy, women’s contribution is highly overlooked, less appreciated and undervalued, while they do bulk of the job in the farming sector and the fishing communities for the survival of human and aquatic species.
The fisheries pundit posited that women play key role in inland fisheries, which is an important sector for food security and through which they ensure reliable supply of food from the ocean that many depend on for their daily nutrition and survival of many businesses across the globe.
Prof. Agbebi argued that women’s roles cannot be over emphasised in the blue economy, which she described as the sustainable use and management of ocean resources for economic growth, massive job creation and environmental conservation.
She highlighted contributions of women in ocean economy to include small scale and artisanal fisheries, sea food processing and packaging, active involvement in tourism industry, women growing presence as ship captains, navigators and engineers, marine research and taking up of leadership positions in maritime and ocean related organizations among others.
Speaking further, she opined that for their ever increasing participation and unquantifiable contributions to marine and blue economy and sustainability, women deserved to be accorded similar recognition and opportunities by governments and development agencies like their male counterparts, by granting them increased access to education, training, technology, facilities and finance through grants and loans to expand their businesses, procure adequate equipment required to step up production and export opportunities to maximize profitability and derive extrinsic satisfaction in the profession of their choice.
“If we really want the Blue/marine economy sector to reach its full potentials, the women in our society must be empowered, adequately protected from gender- based violence such as sexual harassment and assault, that compromise their safety when working on boat and in the processing plants and ensure their voice counts in decision making in the maritime sector.”, she advocated.
In his remarks, OAUSTECH’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Temi Emmanuel Ologunorisa called on women to rise above all social and cultural odds, and make significant researches and contributions to better the lot of women in the society and the world at large.
The Vice-Chancellor congratulated the inaugural lecturer for the milestone achievements and contributions to knowledge, and timely advocacy to make women voice and contributions count in the maritime sector.