There is no exact data about the number of women working in maritime sector in Somalia but it is well known fact that women are under-represented in this sector, which is so pivotal for economic growth in the country. In general, women have limited access to resources, such as capital, credit and training opportunities with little change over the past 25 years but now the winds of change are blowing.
There are already indications of Somali women taking more active roles in the maritime domain. Somalia has recently established a National Chapter of WOMESA (an association for Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa). Members of WOMESA have organised a beach cleaning exercise at Second Lido Beach to raise awareness of the serious problem marine litter poses to the environment and sustainable marine livelihoods.
The beach cleaning exercise was an important step in preserving the health of the coastal ecosystem, which is essential for a flourishing Blue Economy but more needs to be done. Therefore, on 4 September, the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development of the Federal Government of Somalia and the Ministry of Ports and Marine Transport organized a Consultative Conference for Women in the Maritime Sector with the support of EUCAP Somalia and UNSOM/Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group (UNSOM/Rolsig). The conference, held in Mogadishu, brought together Federal and Member State Officials, representatives of Somali civil society and international partners to discuss technical aspects of women’s empowerment in the Maritime sector.
“The conference was an inspiring and inclusive event, bringing together women and men to exchange experiences and share ideas to overcome barriers women are still facing across the maritime sector. The conference also inspired actions to promote equal opportunities for women and men which will benefit their families and entire communities,” said EUCAP’s Human Rights and Gender Adviser Gorica Balta.
Women participating the conference were eager to have more opportunities and take bigger roles especially in fisheries; several participants underlined that women want to learn how and where to fish to support their communities.
The conference came up with several recommendations. For example, the participants emphasised the need to encourage young women to be courageous and take up maritime leadership roles for a transformative change at the institutional level. Furthermore, it is important to promote legislative reforms and adaption of policies for equitable and inclusive work environment in the maritime sector. The Joint Statement also recommended a creation of associations for women in the maritime sector and to raise young women’s awareness on the importance of undertaking training course in the field of the Blue economy.
“The next step is to make sure that the recommended actions will be taken and those transformative and empowering results will be achieved. We should keep to momentum going and collaborate on inclusion of maritime sections into the Somali National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 (UN Security Council’s Resolution on Women, Peace and Security),” said EUCAP’s Adviser Gorica Balta.