Women Taking the Lead In Aviation
Morning Crossfire today sheds light women activities in aviation. These days, the Friday edition has a partnership with the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism and there are fellows from the Female Reporters Leadership Program whose works are showcased on the program.
Half of the world’s population are women. While more companies are focusing on gender equality and balanced workforce, the airline industry still lags behind and in spite of everything, gender stereotypes and sexism still persists. The work of Ifeoma Okeke who works with Business Day is brought to focus this morning on Morning Crossfire. She did a fantastic report on women in aviation. The work is titled ‘Women Taking the Lead at 40,000 Feet above Sea Level.'
Ifeoma relates her experience in reporting aviation. She says she reports on the policy part of aviation, on players such as FAAN, NCAA, and also on management and stakeholders’ issues in the airline industry. This is what she’s been doing for three years. What inspired this report?
Ifeoma says “I have travelled wide and have been noticing the fact that most of the pilots that fly the airplanes are men. I kept wondering why are women not active in this sector? What are the issues? Are there things that discourage them from joining the sector? If there are issues, how do we tackle them? These were some of the questions on my mind before I went ahead and put the story together and thank God for the Wole Soyinka Centre together with Business Day, I was able to complete the task.
“Some of the highlights of the story that I got figures from NCAA and it was alarming that we have over two thousand pilots in Nigeria and sadly, we have less than 100 women in that sector, so that goes to show that we have less than five percent of women that are pilots. The same goes for the engineers in the sector as males also dominate this part of aviation. That got me thinking and I also discovered that there things that discouraged women from going into the sector in the first place. Let me highlight some of them.
“First, the cost of training runs into millions of naira. Now, before you invest such an amount on the female child you may ask yourself some questions; like is she not going to marry some day? So culture plays a very important role in this.
“Secondly, I got to learn from a director of an aviation training school that in some countries a female pilot will have to sign an undertaking that she won’t get pregnant for a period of time. That’s because once a woman is pregnant, she’s not allowed to fly. Once a woman doesn’t fly for some time, before she comes back to fly again she has to take some re-current training that may span twelve months. But during this period, the airline will still pay the pilot. So which employer really wants to do that? If the lady gets pregnant, I really don’t know the implications but the lady could be sacked,” says Ifeoma.
She spoke with women in the aviation industry and she found that some of these women are really passionate about their jobs. People also give them extra attention and admiration when they see what they do, and they are required to lead a responsible life.
Rotimi Sankore talks about the development aspect of the aviation sector. He first attributes the problem to gender stereotypes. He said it discourages girls from clinging to foundation subjects. “But we all know that this type of job does not necessarily interfere with motherhood. Pregnant women jog, dance and do other things as well. You can do any job up to seven months into the pregnancy, depending on your own state of health. I think what should be discouraged is that at a certain time, you must not be allowed to do your job. However, that from the first day of pregnancy one should stop the job is nonsense.
“Even in certain parts of the country where these negative stereotypes exist, you will see some men saying they don’t want their daughters or their wives to be treated by male doctors. It creates more problems,” says Rotimi.
The issue of women in the aviation industry is the same worldwide but how can Nigerians really encourage more ladies to enter the aviation sector as pilots or engineers?
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WOMEN TAKING THE LEAD IN AVIATION --- Morning Crossfire with @wemimospot & @SheriffQuadry, alongside @RotimiSankore
1. Ifeoma Okeke - Aviation News Reporter, BusinessDay
2. Ngozi Idigwe - commercial pilot Dana Air
3. Rotimi Sankore - Journalist, Policy and Development Expert
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka