French Naval Ship Fs Surcouf Commander Critine Ribbe (right)  receives a gift from Betty Makena (2nd right) at Mombasa Port in June 2019. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The push to increase the number of women in the maritime sector has gained momentum with the government pledging to create awareness in schools, colleges and villages on the available job opportunities that women can take up in this field.

The Ministry of Public Service and Gender has affirmed its partnership with the Association for Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (Womesa) Kenya chapter  in a new drive to increase women placement on maritime jobs.

Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa pledged to partner with Womesa to take the messages to every corner of the country to shore up numbers of women in the maritime sector which remain low both on board ships and in seaports.

“I am happy to see women are getting interested in the perceived male-dominated field,” she said.

She spoke at the Bandari Maritime Academy in Mombasa county on Tuesday during celebrations to mark the second edition of the International Day for Women in Maritime.

The day was established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector.

It was also meant to raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equity) and support work to address the current gender imbalance  in maritime.

The celebrations happened as Kenya intensified the recruitment of seafarers who comprise young men and women to work on board various foreign ships including cruise vessels.

The hiring drive that started in 2018 so far has seen the placement of hundreds of Kenyans on vessels and earned the country dollars in diaspora remittances.

In April this year, deputy president Rigathi Gachagua flagged off 500 seafarers at Bandari Maritime Academy to work on ships overseas.

On Tuesday, Harriet Kadzo who is among the youthful seafarers said she has benefited since the recruitment programmed started.

“I have worked onboard a ship outside the country for a year and I have come back to study. I am set to go back there to work as a third officer,” said Kadzo.

Haron Mutwiri, manager at Premier Maritime Training Institute in Nkubu, Meru county, said there has been increasing in interest in maritime jobs.

“It is encouraging that Kenyans are warming up to seafaring jobs after the opportunities opened up,” he said.

Womesa is a grouping of women in the maritime sector in 26 countries in Africa Womesa Kenya was established in 2010 as a national Chapter.

Shipping and Logistics Maritime Sector Women in Shipping Shipping Barriers