Blue economy’s sustainability will be guaranteed by the women in leadership positions
Being on board with gender equality is more than just a slogan for Etosha Fishing who prizes the contribution from the three women in its management team, and the majority women working on this fishing company’s factory floor.
The role of women in the maritime industry received special attention during June with two specific days dedicated to highlight the growing importance of women in the so-called blue economy.
On 08 June with the celebration of World Ocean Day, the theme was ‘Gender and the Ocean” and on 25 June the spotlight was on gender equality on the Day of the Seafarer.
Addressing the World Ocean Day celebration in Walvis Bay, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Hon Bernard Esau said the blue economy’s sustainability is premised on the inclusion of women noting that they are already making a significant contribution to the health and sustainability of the ocean, specifically in the utilisation of its resources.
Applying this in the day to day running of a company is however not always that easy, especially in the male-dominated fishing industry. But for Etosha Fishing, turning the tide in favour of women is not only an intention, it is practised at all levels of the company hierarchy.
Acting Managing Director and former Financial Director, Nezette Beukes, is the leading example although she is quick to point out that it was never a conscious decision to employ women in leading positions.
The fact that most of the key managerial positions at Etosha Fishing are occupied by women, is in Beukes’ mind a clear illustration that females are just as capable as their male counterparts.
Two of Etosha Fishing’s Quality Managers, both females, have also received personal recognition for their contribution to quality assurance, with Estelle van Dyk and Linekela Kapundja winning the NSI Individual Award for Quality in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
Commenting on her responsibilities in the company, Kapundja said “It’s a matter of dedication, leading by example and keeping the team motivated. We have to continue to empower Namibians to be better qualified.”
“To be recognised for our consistent delivery of quality products in this very competitive business environment is not a matter of how many males and females you have employed. We all work together as a team. It should however serve as a motivation to women hoping to enter this sector that they can also excel in a traditionally male dominated world,” Beukes elaborated.
Another women on the move is the Head of the Labelling and Dispatch department, Drizelle Westerdale. Starting 15 years ago as the Managing Director’s personal assistant, she has consistently moved up in the ranks due to her proven competence, now being in charge of the final link in the the value chain of Etosha’s canned products.
“It is all about dedication and passion for the work you do. If you consistently perform well in your job, you will be recognised for your efforts,” she said.
Etosha Fishing Corporation is the only remaining cannery in Namibia following the implosion of the pelagic industry. It has restructured its operations to continue operating, implementing such novel strategies as obtaining raw material from Peru and Morocco, and developing new products based on the very large Horse Mackerel resource. It is also the leading canner for well-known retail brands such as Lucky Star and Glenryck. It has received numerous quality awards.
Caption: On board with gender equality – Three of Etosha Fishing’s top management team are females. Acting Managing Director, Nezette Beukes (middle) is flanked by Quality Manager Linekela Kapundja (left) and Head of the Labelling and Dispatch department, Drizelle Westerdale.