MIAMI – Today on International Women’s Day, I would like to congratulate all the fabulous ladies out there in the world, the lady airline pilots, the aviatrixes, the aviation enthusiasts, and just women in general. Although the date, March 8, is set aside to honor the women of the world, and for countless reasons, there is much more behind the story than a simple day to celebrate. 

This special day was started in the early 1900s to celebrate womanhood, and a desire for equal rights – some countries have since turned it into a national holiday. The United Nations started celebrating the day in 1977. I’ve heard the question before of why, in modern days, this special day is necessary.

Well, as is still the case now, in 2021, some professions (and rights) aren’t necessarily laid away for women, in fact, frowned upon. I can tell you from personal experience that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible. 

Photo: Marrit Gorter/Airways

Being a Female Pilot

In Aruba, I am my country’s first and only female airline pilot. It is an honor to be that, it truly is. It also comes with the responsibility to inspire more and more women to break barriers.

I love to see the eyes of little girls sparkle when I have the chance to speak to them about flying jets. I feel like I know I just planted a seed and that perhaps one day I will be their captain. The boys usually also react either in a surprised manner or just interested, but in the process, slowly but surely those stigmas will change. 

Women CAN be pilots, plumbers, and bankers. Just like men can be nannies and secretaries. See what I did there? I repeated the stigma. It will take some time but at least in the case of my profession, you will see more and more females at the pointy end of the plane. 

One of the things that the aviation industry has been working on over the last few years has been women’s representation in the industry. While major strides have been accomplished, there is still plenty to do, as explained in a November Airways interview with Lucy Isabel (LI) (@LucyIsabel33) and Daisy Bing (DB) (@daisybing7), who are both aspiring pilots.

Besides the new breed of female pilots, there are several all-female flights going on around the world today: All-female cockpit crew, female flight attendants, female maintenance, and air traffic controllers. Keep an eye out, you may just be on one of those flights.

Photo: @daisybing7

Aviation Industry Strides

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the 36 State ICAO governing Council has adopted concrete commitments in a new Declaration on Improving Gender Representation in ICAO’s Governing and Technical Bodies, according to an ICAO press release from today.

The new commitments include that “all future ICAO Council committees, working groups, panels, and other governance or technical bodies, as well as their Chair Groups where applicable and the Council’s own Vice-President cohort, must be comprised of both men and women.” As for female pilots, we have made our strides felt in the commercial aviation industry from the ’80s until this year.

Today, we are reminded of the strides the industry and the women who looked to the skies have made for gender equality in aviation. We remember when British Airways (BA) recruited Lynn Barton in 1987 as the first female Pilot due to her flying experience, having her go straight into long-haul.

Today, we look back on how an all-female Ethiopian Airlines’ (ET) crew took over the carrier’s inaugural flight from Addis Ababa to Buenos Aires, Argentina back in March 2018. We also celebrate how four women Pilots made history in January 2021 by flying Air India’s (AI) inaugural flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) – AI’s longest nonstop flight.

Today, we remember when Kam Air (RQ) set a milestone for Afghan Gender Equality in February 2021 with an all-women-crewed flight. The flight, operated by First Officer Mohadese Mirzaee (22) and Captain Veronica Borysova (32), departed from Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) in Kabul.

So let’s celebrate women, whether you have some amazing glass ceiling breaking job, you’re happy to be a fabulous mom at home, or a young lady just trying to figure things out. You’re all ROCKSTARS! Those who support those ladies also deserve a congratulations. HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TO ALL!

Featured image: Captain Zoya Agarwal at the controls of the Boeing 777. Photo: ANI News