On the occasion of International Women’s Day, in line with numerous efforts, IMO and WISTA International’s Focus Group Africa organized at the Women in Leadership; Effective Mentoring in Shipping webinar. As part of an esteemed panel, Effat Mostafa, Executive Director at Tactics Creative Communication, Managing Editor of Marasi News and Communications Head of AWIMA shed light on various aspects concerning the role of women in the industry. She also launched the ‘Power to Empower’ initiative, an endeavour by Marasi News that will enable women to achieve equal opportunities in the industry.
Moderated by Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, Executive Member of Women In Maritime West and Central Africa (WIMoWCA) and Eunice Ezeoke, President of WISTA Nigeria, the virtual event featured renowned panelists from varied sectors in the maritime industry.
Some of the key topics that the virtual event tackled included leadership traits and skills for success, effective mentoring in the shipping industry – bottom-up approach, reverse mentoring in the era of Covid-19, diversity – views of the male gender and seafarers sharing experiences before and during Covid-19. Mostafa spoke at length about her journey in the industry and her endeavours in shaping the future of the shipping industry and leading the way for younger aspiring women professionals. She said, “As the youngest Exco -Board Member of WISTA, it is an honour to be speaking among women who are beacons of success in the industry. They are indeed women one must look up to. In an industry that is male-dominated, such women are bringing about a positive change by leading the way for the younger lot of women who aspire to be a part of the industry.”
Gender Equality, The Way Forward
Women have an important role to play in the shipping industry and this is not limited to specific sectors. Today, the industry has women seafarers, who are doing the job with sheer brilliance. The trend is indeed gradually changing and women are increasingly opting to be a part of the industry, though there still is a long way to go to.
Mostafa explained, “The shipping industry like every other sector is working tirelessly to find the best talent, irrespective of gender. Our primary goal must be to recruit talent that can help enhance the growth of the global shipping industry that was valued at 14 trillion US Dollars as of 2019. We need to quash all preconceived notions about the industry and carve out a diverse, young and adaptive industry where people can thrive. There is no doubt that government and private entities are doing their bit to achieve gender equality in the industry. The IMO itself has taken a series of steps to strengthen the role of women in the shipping industry. They are definitely leading by example and we are seeing other entities follow this path. Another noteworthy effort by IMO and WISTA International is the launch of the Women in Maritime – IMO and WISTA International Survey 2021 that will study the proportion and distribution of women working in the maritime sector. This will help us identify the roadblocks and work towards creating an industry where all genders are on par.”
Leading the way
According to an analysis by the Harvard Business Review, women outscored men on most leadership competencies even during a crisis. This showcases the transformative power and the foresight that women possess. To create an industry where women can co-exist and lead companies to success, access to education, training and capacity-building as well as identifying and eliminating the physical and social barriers are essential.
Mostafa added, “There is no doubt that women leaders can accelerate the growth of the shipping industry and economies around the world. With that said, first and foremost, we must tackle these issues at a grassroots level. Today, maritime academies and institutions like Arab Academy for Science Technology & Maritime Transport (AASTMT) in Egypt and their branch in Sharjah, UAE are focusing on the need to inject the maritime workforce with women talents. This is where the role of mentoring the younger generation is important. By nurturing young women and providing them with necessary resources to excel in the field, we are giving birth to an industry that will be renewed with women leaders of the future.”
With impressive credentials and a vast experience in the maritime industry, Mostafa has in her decade long career continually supported the cause of women empowerment. She has utilized her expertise to train and mentor other women in the industry.