By Ebele Orakpo
African Women in Maritime, otherwise known as WIMAFRICA, the foremost continental organisation of African women in the Maritime industry, is fulfilling one of the cardinal reasons for its establishment – helping women in the maritime sector live their dreams.
In an earlier interview with the Continental President, CP of WIMAFRICA, Nigeria’s Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere, she had said that empowering women in the Maritime industry, looking at the issue of seafarers, women ship owners, aquaculture, women in the fishing industry, their challenges and how to empower them to overcome the challenges, are some of the things WIMAFRICA set out to achieve.
One of the success stories is that of a young Sierra Leonean female seafarer, Regina Conteh-Khali, who went from an unemployed seafarer to one doing what she loves most, thus fulfilling 2019 World Maritime Day focus of “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.”
An elated Conteh-Khali said that a relationship between WIMAFRICA and the Sea Shepherd, a shipping company mainly concerned with efforts at stopping illegal fishing for countries and securing seafarers for bigger vessel owners, gave her an opportunity to be back at sea.
According to her, a few months ago, she responded to a call by WIMAFRICA’s CP, Mrs. Jean Chiazor Anishere, for members who are seafarers to send in their curriculum vitae.
The shipping company eventually contacted her and offered her the job at sea.
“A few months ago, our CP asked the female seafarers in the group to send their CVs. Being a Seafarer, I sent my CV to her, because I had stopped going to sea for a while as there were no shipping companies recruiting seafarers in my country anymore.
“Getting a vessel or company to hire seafarers in Sierra Leone is challenging, not just for women.
“The crew coordinator for Sea Shepherd, a lady called Bea, contacted me some weeks ago and today, we had a video session. She has offered me a job and I am so excited,” said Conteh-Khali.
Appreciating the CP and WIMAFRICA, she said: “I am grateful to you and every other woman working tirelessly to empower women in the maritime industry. It is still my dream to become the first female captain in Sierra Leone and you have just made that possible for me. I’m happy to go back to sea.”
On her part, an elated the WIMAFRICA President said connecting with Capt. Peter Hammardstedt, the Director of Campaigns in Sea Shepherd, at a Blue Economy Conference in Tunisia, gave the opportunity for discussions on the need for job placement for WIMAFRICA’s members who needed jobs at sea.
She said: “He told me to send him their names and certificates; which I did. I sent him over 60 names and certificates from nine African countries, who are members of WIMAFRICA, Nigeria inclusive. So we are hopeful that we will get more of our girls on board ships soon.”