WOMEN HONOURED FOR THEIR ROLE IN TRANSPORT
*Caption: Deputy Minister of Transport Hon. Lydia Chikunga delivers her keynote address.
Written by: Nqobile Msomi
Women across the transport industry gathered at the Durban ICC for the 5th Annual Women in Transport Awards.
The awards were mainly geared towards women in the maritime sector.
The keynote address was delivered by Deputy Minister of Transport, Lydia Sindiswe Chikunga, who commented on the lack of women in the maritime sector.
“The South African Network for Women in Transport (SANWIT) concept was born out of a need to break existing barriers for entry into the sector and thus SANWIT was established by the National Department of Transport as an umbrella body which acts as a strategic vehicle to engage business and government on issues that impact on women development in the transport sector, including entrepreneurship,” said Chikunga.
On the role of the awards in the industry, she said: “Appreciating women is important, for a woman to do her bit and be appreciated for it encourages and motivates them not only the winner but other women who are part of it as well.”
According to Stats SA, females comprised only 22% of the transport labour force in 2008. Six years later (2014) they comprised only 20%. African women are significantly underrepresented in the transport sector. For an example in South Africa, there are currently no female ship-owners or ship builders and given that only 7 to 12% of African engineering students are women, it should not be a surprise that a very small percentage of marine engineers are female.
“It is not easy to transform the industry because there are people who are in positions, you cannot take them out or retrench them. But you have to wait for them to pass on or retire and find that the next person in line is a man because they have the skills,” said Chikunga.
SAMSA’S annual report of 2014-2015 states that they are currently training 57 skilled technical and academically qualified workers, junior management, supervisors, foremen and superintendents. 40 of those are women whilst 16 are men. 15 out of 23 interns taken in 2014-2015 were women.
Amongst some of the winners were Development Bank of Southern Africa for Best Performing Institution in Transport, Sylvia Siyo from Transnet National Parts Authority for Best Head Department in Transport, DCG from DSM Corridor Group for Best Port Operator or Terminal in Africa.