Read about how one of our overseas supporting organisations, The African Section of the Ninety-Nines, is working to promote gender equality in aviation in Africa.
The African Section is part of an international non-profit organisation of female Pilots called the Ninety-Nines. It is the first and only organisation for women pilots established in 1929 by 99 female pilots, including founding member Amelia Earhart. The organisation currently holds over 5000 members from 44 countries divided into chapters and sections depending on their geographical locations.
This year Malawi will be hosting the first African Section conference of the Ninety Nines from 19th to 24th October 2019 and will be making history in the aviation sector of the country and continent. This is the first time ever that such an event of this size has ever taken place on the African Continent with only female pilots.
The Ninety-Nines International will be celebrating 90 years and the African Section their 1st Anniversary, with the conference combining these two landmark anniversary celebrations. The opening ceremony will include Ambassadors of the countries of the women who are attending, Ministers and other VIP guests. The female members in attendance are role models in both their countries and professions, and will include some 70 female pilots around the world. The aim of the conference is to promote aviation through education and scholarships in Africa, and they are reaching to the youth through STEM camps that will be held in different countries in Africa.
Female pilots remain scarce especially in Africa, and worldwide just 5% of pilots are women. The numbers are starting to increase but there is still a long way to go. With the global shortage of pilots and shortage of skilled aviation professionals and gender disparity, STEM is needed now more than ever. More women and girls need to be engaged, excited and involved in aviation and STEM related fields.
Many African countries including Malawi face significant challenges in educating their youth, due to lack of equipment and access to basic amenities such as electricity, as well as non-attendance in school. As a result, many children may be unable to read even after several years of education.
Girls in rural Malawi and in Africa still have the mindset that this is not something they should do; that it’s a male-dominated field. This could be due to a lack of females as role models and cultural barriers which still exist. Many girls in Africa do not participate significantly or perform well in STEM subjects. This situation becomes more pronounced as the level of education increases and a combination of factors, including cultural practices and attitudes, and biased teaching and learning materials, perpetuate the imbalance.
The African Section will promote advancement of aviation for women through education, scholarships and mutual support while honouring our unique history and sharing our passion for flight. They have therefore set up Girls Wings For Africa Scholarship Fund & STEM to enable females in Africa to start a professional career in aviation obtaining a pilot certificate, to assist with the renewal of licence, help female pilots in obtaining type and other ratings (such as night ratings, instrument ratings etc.), scholarships towards the first year degree in aviation or aerospace (for example bachelors, masters or doctorate in the fields of aerospace engineering, air traffic control, aviation business management) and funding towards emergency manoeuvres training.
We need to inspire more females and youth to be involved in such rewarding and indispensable industries like aviation and other STEM related fields, promoting gender equality and female empowerment. We have to adopt a more collaborative and concerted approach to help drive initiatives that will build capacity at the scale and speed required to bridging the skills gap and building the right talent for Africa’s future.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” — Amelia Earhart
STEM & Scholarships for the youth will be an investment for the future generations in Africa on a whole.
“Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world” — Nelson Mandela former President South Africa